Northeast's Blog

Give a hoot! New!
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The following was posted by Marne.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I enjoy coins with animals on them. Almost every coin features an animal of some kind. My favorite animal on a coin would have to be the owl. Owls are fascinating creatures. They are nocturnal solitary birds of prey, with feathers that are silent, binocular vision, and binaural hearing. Owls can be found almost anywhere on Earth, with the exception of the polar ice caps and a few remote islands. A group of owls is known as a "parliament".

Owls have long fascinated civilizations througout time. In Ancient Greece, the owl was a symbol for Athena, goddess of wisdom and strategy. According to myth, 'an owl sat on Athena's blind side, so that she could see the whole truth.' A symbol of a higher wisdom, and a guardian of the Acropolis.

In the modern West owls are associated with wisdom and vigilance. Harkening back to Ancient Greece, as Athena was known for wisdom.

The First Nations Peoples of the Americas considered owls bearers of supernatural danger. The Apache and Seminole told children the hooting was from "bogeymen" (possibly to get them to behave and go to bed!)
Owls were thought to carry messages back and forth beyod the grave. 

The Aztecs and Maya knew the owls as a symbol of death, often depicted with the Aztec god of death Mictlantecutli. 

In Mexico there is a phrase "Cuando el tecolote canta, el indio muere" ("When the owl cries/sings, the Indian dies").

The first owl coins were minted around 510 BC. The Athenian Owl was the first coin with a full design on both the obverse and reverse. The phrase "heads or tails" originated with this coin!

The "Owls" as they were known were minted to a standard of purity and weight. This contributed to their success as the premier trade coin of their era. This made them a widely used coin,  often used to make large payments, or hoarded.

The silver Tetradrachm is thought to be the coin given to Judas for betraying Jesus.

The owl is also featured on the 2016 German Domestic Birds coin series.

1/8 oz 20 Euro Gold Uhu 2018


This 2011 Wildlife Protection coin of Mongolia has Swarovski crystal eyes.

The Ukraine Bubo

In the United States in 1915 at the San Francisco Panama-Pacific Expo, the first $50 gold coin was released in commemoration. Mintages were 1,509 of the $50 Gold Octagonal and 1,510 of the $50 Gold Rounds. Due to cost, few sold and approximately 1,017 $50 Gold Rounds were destroyed. 

What coins with animals fascinate you?

Created by: Panda on 06/15/2020

I most like the DoDo bird!

Now we can't see a real DoDo bird, but can find it on a 1971 MAURITIUS silver coin.

*I bought this coin in 2018 from NorthEast.

Hay! New!

The following was written by Brian.

I recently came across the term 'haymarks' and was a bit mystified as to what that could mean. I searched a bit and found that while most agree that the term refers to older British coins, there is quite the variance when it comes to what they are and how they are produced. Check out the Fourpence, and you'll see clearly that there is something sort of streaky going on with the surfaces throughout the fields and across the devices. 

What the hay, I say?

A few sources returned mixed results…

From a British coin site:

Hmking - haymarking. These terms refer to flan surface faults resulting from metal mix. They are essentially dark scars caused during and not damage subsequent to minting. 

But this explanation from an old Heritage Auction does seem to have some validity to it: "probably net-graded to a "62" because of the entirely normal black streaky flecks in the metal, sometimes called "haymarks," caused by the alloyed silver containing tin, which came in part from Midlands and Welsh mines.  

Further complicating matters, various coin forums on this subject find a number of British coin dealers "don't use this term" and "I am British and I call them hairlines" which is totally ridiculous because that's like saying Santa Claus doesn't exist and neither do run-on sentences. 

Some say it is merely a language thing where haymarks is just a word used in Britain for hairlines.

Or it could all just be a bunch of hooey! Feel free to weigh in with your expertise on this subject should you want to. We would be glad to hear your thoughts!

Seizing the Opportunity: Classic Commems New!

Click the link below to read an article by Tom Caldwell and Chris Maisano about the Classic Silver Commemorative market.

Drama, Betrayal & Murder? New!
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The following was written by Christy.

The Story of Ted Binion - Part 2

Ted was found dead when Sandy arrived home in the early afternoon of September 17th. At first glance, the scene of the body was unremarkable. This looked like a cut and dry drug overdose, so the police did not take any special care at the scene to protect any pieces of evidence from being contaminated. Ted’s body was taken to the coroner who ruled it a drug overdose, with not much clarity if it was intentional or not. Time of death was near noon.

Soon thereafter, things started to get suspicious. In the early morning hours of September 19th, just two days after Ted’s death, his partner and friend Rick Tabish was found digging up the silver vault that only he and Ted had the combination for. Rick had a briefcase with him. Inside they found a love note from Sandy and information on how to sell silver coins. He was promptly arrested.

The Binion family had suspicions about Sandy’s possible involvement with Ted’s death. Detectives started looking into her behavior on the day Ted was found. A few things stood out to them. There was video footage of her at the hospital. The detectives noticed that although her reactions seemed appropriate for losing someone close to her, she seemed to be able to turn her reactions on and off. Almost as if they were rehearsed.

There were other strange occurrences that seemed to sprout up. Many of the various safes in the house had been completely emptied out at some point. Sandy had called their cleaning lady that morning and canceled their scheduled services for that same day. Ted’s realtor had called the house on the day in question. Sandy answered the phone and told the realtor that Ted was not available, and he was “out of it.” The time of the phone call was right around the estimated time of death. Shortly after the phone call, Sandy left the house to run errands before coming home to discover the body.

The body was re-examined. A few things that had gone under the radar were now being looked at more closely. There was bruising on his face and torso that now seemed more sinister. The medical examiner also determined that there was reason to believe that Ted was face-down for some time after death, but he was found face-up.

On May 18th, 2000, Sandra Murphy and Rick Tabish were tried and convicted of murdering Ted Binion. The jury determined that the suicide had been forced and they were sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

The court proceedings did not end there. Four and a half years later, in 2004, Sandra and Rick were granted a re-trial on the basis that jurors were not properly instructed on how to deliberate, as well as Rick having multiple charges lumped into the trial that should have been separated into different trials. The defense attorneys argued that most of the evidence against the pair was circumstantial and there was a lack of evidence that anything had been forced upon Ted.

The verdict on the murder charges was overturned on November 23rd, 2004, but both were convicted on lesser charges. Murphy was released on time served, and Tabish continued to serve his sentence until 2010.

What about Ted’s treasure? Some remains unclaimed at the courthouse. Most of what was in the vault was recovered and given to his Daughter. She has offered some of it for sale to the public. You can see these labeled as “Binion Collection” on NGC certified coins. A lot of Ted’s treasure is still unaccounted for. There are rumors that the strange mounds on his property still hold his missing treasure trove.  As recently as 2019, a man was arrested for attempting to dig up the rumored silver, the whereabouts of which will have to remain a mystery for now.

Ted Binion

Ted Binion's property in Pahrump, NV.

Sandy Muprhy and Rick Tabish during their trial.

Binion Collection Morgan Dollar released for sale to the public.

Sandy Murphy and Rick Tabish.

Part of Ted's recovered silver hoard.

Created by: MWallace on 05/26/2020

Great article Christy on the Binion Hoard. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

A Man, his Morgans & Murder? New!

The following was written by Christy.

The Story of Ted Binion - Part I

To understand the story of Ted Binion, you must start with his family life and where he came from. Ted Binion was the son of Benny Binion, an extraordinarily successful and wealthy Casino owner. He owned and operated the Binion Horseshoe Casino and was regarded as a pioneer of Las Vegas. It went on to become one of the biggest and most successful casinos in all the city.

Benny found himself in legal troubles with tax evasion, and in 1964 his two sons, Jack and Ted had to step in to run the Casino. Ted was only 21 years old at the time.

Ted continued in his father’s footsteps when it came to legal issues. Over the years running the casino he had built himself a reputation as a partier and a playboy. He had a rampant drug addiction to heroin and Xanax, and he liked to associate himself and party with very influential people, including those in organized crime. In 1986 he was arrested on drug trafficking charges, marking the beginning of a long list of troubles he found himself in.

In 1996 he was banned from entering the casino and court ordered to undertake mandatory drug testing.  He went great lengths to try to avoid testing, at one point shaving off all of his body hair to evade certain types of tests. In 1997 his gaming license was suspended as a result of him not living up to the agreements of the court, and in 1998 his gaming license was permanently revoked due to his ties with the mob.

Ted married his wife Doris in 1980, but their relationship was just as rocky as his professional life. There were rumored affairs on both sides and ultimately, they filed for divorce. Around the same time as the divorce, Ted met Sandra Murphy at a Gentleman’s club and they quickly became a couple.

Ted had an affinity for silver, both in bar form and silver dollar coins. His love of stockpiling silver and stacking coins went so far that he had housed a giant vault in the basement of the casino for his collection. He was not shy about his collection and was known to brag about his hoard, telling anyone and everyone who would listen about his stockpile.

When things went south with his dealings in the casino, he only had two options; he could sell off his collection, or he would have to find a new place to keep it. Rick Tabish, the owner of trucking company MRT Transport, had become fast friends with Ted. With the issue of moving the silver, they became business associates. A 12-foot deep vault was installed in one of Ted’s properties in Pahrump, NV, a suburb about 60 miles west of Las Vegas. Rick handled transporting the hoard to the vault. Only Rick and Ted held the combination to his underground bunker. In total, the hoard amounted to about six tons in silver bullion, casino chips, paper currency and over 100,000 silver dollars, which included many Carson City silver dollars. Ted also hid his money and silver in secret locations around his home in Las Vegas. There were safes scattered about the property inside and out.  The only person who knew of every location was Ted himself.

On September 17th, 1998, 12:00 PM, Ted was found dead in his home by his live-in girlfriend Sandy. When medical examiners arrived, they found him lying on his back. Nearby they found drug paraphernalia and an empty bottle of Xanax. At first glance this seemed like a standard overdose, accidental or intentional, but was it really? 

Stay tuned for the next installment!