Northeast's Blog

Continental Curency New!

The following was written by Brian.

Ok, fine, I spelled ‘currency’ incorrectly, but I’m not the first one. And at least I didn’t design a US coin with a spelling error.

And so it is, one of the most famous (and controversial) coins in US history, the Continental Curency Dollar.

Listed at number 30 in the fifth edition of the 100 Greatest US Coins. This is and has always been an immensely popular coin, due to the theory that this was the first circulating US coin, it’s magical date and its ties to Ben Franklin. This particular variety is noted for its lack of two R's in CURENCY. Designed by engraver Elisha Gallaudet, it includes elements from the One Third Dollar and One Sixth Dollar Continental Currency notes that were in circulation at the time, as well as some features proposed by Benjamin Franklin. 

A most interesting inscription, Ben Frankloin's “Mind Your Business” (taken from the Fugio Cent) is located just below the sundial. Now, mind you, this phrase is not meant in the contemporary sense as in "mind your own business", like buzz off, go take a hike or take a long walk off a short pier or go pound sand. No, Franklin did not intend to communicate this idea. Instead, he likely meant to communicate that others should literally keep their business affairs at the center of their thinking. This wouild make sense as Franklin was a fervent businessman. 

There are, however, some questions regarding the origin of the Continental Dollar. There are no remaining records of its production in congressional records and the first mentions of the coin in print are supposedly from European sources. Eric Goldstein and David McCarthy concluded that the Continental dollars were struck in London, circa 1783, as a commemorative medal, rather than a coin. Additionally, new research has revealed it may very well be German in origin. Appearing in a 1783 printing of Historisch-geneologischer Calendar was Daniel Berger’s engaving of a piece nearly identical in design both on obverse and reversee (with the legends in German, not English).  

Side note; I've always thought it was interesting that in colonial script, you will find f's used as esses. It was to distinguish between a hard 's' and a soft 's'. The 'f' represented the soft 's' which is why you will find words like house and houses spelIed 'houfe' and 'houses'. I really wish thif would make a comeback because I actually miff thif feriously cool fcript. And now I sound like Daffy Duck. 

Frankly Speaking New!

The following was written by Frank. He is a college student who has been working for us part-time over the past few years, starting with us when he was in high school. He's developing into a rather sharp coin buyer, and we are excited to have him on our team. Look for more "Frankly Speaking" posts in the future.

This past June, I attended the ANA Summer Seminar in Colorado Springs for the first time. I was excited to learn more about coin grading from two top notch professionals, Steve Feltner and David McCarthy. I landed in Colorado Springs Airport to find my checked bag filled with a week’s worth of clothes missing. Traveling is still fairly new to me, so I was a bit frantic about the situation. After leaving the airline’s customer service desk, I was kindly greeted by a representative of the ANA. From there, myself and other students loaded on to the bus and headed to Colorado Springs College. On the way, we chatted about coins and got to know each other. After checking in and settling into my wicked hot dorm room, I ordered out Thai food and called it a night.

The next morning I got a call from a Colorado number, my bag filled with clothes had arrived! I quickly changed into new clothes and went off to breakfast with a couple friends. Right after breakfast, we walked across the street to class. We all introduced ourselves and went right into grading. Both instructors are a wealth of knowledge, every coin that we graded, they went into great depth explaining why the coin was a certain grade. Every once in a while they would throw a curveball at us, including a proof Franklin Half Dollar with a huge wheel mark on the reverse, a proof Lincoln Cent with added cameo, and a 1927-D $20 Saint Gaudens with an added mintmark.

During lunches, we’d make root beer floats and if we had time, we toured the ANA’s Money Museum, where many of the coins from the infamous Bass Collection were on display. Nights were spent hanging out with friends, shooting pool, and doing coin deals with each other.

The week flew by and before I knew it, it was time for the graduation banquet. We had a fancy dinner which ended with an award ceremony. Both Steve Feltner and David McCarthy were awarded their honorary doctorate in Numismatics for their dedication to the hobby.

After Summer Seminar, I attended the Coin-X West Coin Show in Colorado Springs to do some buying for Northeast. This was my first time going out to a show solely buying for Northeast, so I was a bit nervous about it. The show was a decent size, roughly 100 tables. My favorite buy from the show was an 1839-O Capped Bust Half Dollar PCGS F12; these have always been one of my favorite coins because it’s the only Capped Bust coin with a mintmark intended for circulation. I spent 3 days at the show looking for good buys and came home with about 100 coins and COVID.

If anyone ever has the opportunity to attend the ANA Summer Seminar, I would highly encourage you to do so. I built many great connections and learned a lot in only one week.

Coins and Currency Everywhere New!
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The following was written by Brian.

I went ahead and got myself some sushi last Saturday night. The service was excellent and so accordingly I left a nice tip, but also a shiny Lincoln Cent – heads (or obverse as some you people like to call it) up. This is an old custom and it is very possible that my gesture was lost on this younger generation waiter, but that’s okay, he still got a nice tip in addition to the cent. Note; this refers to a cent left *in addition to* the gratuity/tip, not instead of it. Anyway, it got me thinking about coins as symbolism and not just currency.

There are plenty of examples too. Another one I was reminded of was a customer we had a few years ago. She used to call ahead and order anywhere from 10-20 American Silver Eagles (that year’s date) and come pick them up. She would present them to her town’s graduating Eagle Scout class. Pretty cool!

Another example is coins on headstones. A coin left on a headstone lets the deceased soldier's family know that somebody stopped by to pay their respects. A penny means you visited, a nickel means you and the deceased veteran trained at boot camp together and a dime means you and the deceased veteran served together in some capacity. A quarter is left by someone who was physically with the service member when he or she died. This is no new custom, either, coins for the dead can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire. Coins were placed into the mouth of fallen soldiers to pay for passage and protection across the River Styx, which separates the world of the living from the world of the dead. In Navy mythology, coins were placed under the mast of a ship to pay the “ferryman” for safe transport to the afterlife in the event sailors died at sea. Pretty neat!

It is a custom in some cultures to place silver coins over the eyes of the recently departed. The theory is that the deceased will not be able to see their own death captured in the eyes of the living. Pretty creepy!

And lastly, the Short Snorter! What a fun name. The short snorter name, when taken literally means a small shot of alcohol. During WWII, ‘snorter’ was slang for a shot of booze and short just meant small; hence a small shot drank swiftly.

The short snorter was a signed banknote in most cases. US soldiers, sailors and airmen would sign, collect and exchange these military and foreign notes as a record of their exploits. Some of them were made into streamers several feet long!


How this practice took on the namesakes of a small shot of alcohol is unknown, however it is said that after the ritual of exchanging these notes, alcohol generally followed.

John Steinbeck once noted that “very curious practices grow out of a war,” but he found none stranger than the oddly-named short snorter. 

Feel free to comment with any of your own symbolic coin and currency anecdotes, observations or customs.

Created by: PS28 on 08/22/2022

Short snorters were also popular with US Astronauts and fetch a lot of money. As an aside, when my father died we placed a silver dollar in each of his hands. As we shoveled the first bit of dirt onto his casket the local ferry whistle blew. One of us said, "at least we know he had the right fare."

Better Very Late Than Never New!
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They say good things come to those who wait and in numismatics, a case can be made for the 1912-S Liberty Head “V Nickel” 5 cent piece. This key date of the Liberty Head nickel series almost never happened. Coinage finally commenced on Christmas Eve in 1912 and lasted only 4 days. This would be the last year of the Liberty Head nickel series (if you don’t count the 1913 and you shouldn’t).

The San Francisco mint produced a total of just 238,000 V nickels in 1912, making it the lowest mintage of the series by a long shot. Put into perspective, the key date 1885 and 1886 nickels had mintages in the millions but the 1912-S nickel had about half the mintage of the celebrated key date 1909-S VDB Lincoln Cent. Despite a very low mintage, this rarity can be found without too much difficulty in grades up to MS65. In MS66, however, this date becomes truly rare. There are no known MS67’s at either grading service. 10 MS66+’s exist, although some of those are possibly resubmissions.  


Quality was indeed a bit of an issue as can be seen by comparing the Philadelphia and Denver mints issues of that year. The Philly and Denver strikes were much crisper. The San Francisco nickels can be seen with a softer overall appearance and weakness on the left side ear of coin on the reverse. On many specimens, the ear is completely flat. You can also expect to encounter die cracks on many specimens as the hardness of the metal wreaked havoc on several sets of dies.

A good example of strike weakness. This coin is graded MS64 by PCGS. 

Quality issues aside, this low mintage date did not stimulate much interest at the time. The 1912-S nickel was not alone, however; later in the decade the 1916-D Mercury Dime would be born with a mintage of 264,000 – the lowest of the series and instant key date. This coin too would not be met with much interest. As a whole, mint marks did not hold much importance to collectors until nearly 20 years later. Oh, to be able to go back in time!

Created by: LNCS on 08/05/2022

Not sure if production was Dec 24 or Dec 26 as the daily logs were not clear.

I have it as 100,000 on December 26 and 138,000 on December 30.

Regardless, they only minted these on 2 days over the last week of 1912.

Baltimore Show Report New!

The following was written by Brian.

Back to Baltimore! The Whitman show is almost always a good one for us and conveniently situated on the east coast, close to home. Unfortunately we needed to fly into DC instead of BWI and that is about a one hour drive from the airport into the city. Still, the weather was nice when we arrived and our flight was only about an hour late; Christmas in June! In addition to the usual gang of Tom, Chris and Brian, our new superstar intern Frank made the trip along with us and he handled the entire show like an old pro. It was great to have him with us.

 The next night saw a thunderstorm so intense it knocked the Baltimore Orioles clear into dead last place. Seriously, it was scarier than their staff ERA.

But the next day was really nice!

The dealer pre-show trading was brisk and we were able to make quite a few purchases while moving some of our older inventory at the same time. The rest of the show was also quite good for buying and this is of course great news for our customers.

The show opened the next day and the bourse floor was, ummm, how to put this…roomy! Plenty of space in the aisles to walk and plenty of space behind the booths from which to operate. All this is nice, however, this just meant less tables than in previous shows. The show attendee traffic was light to say the least and there wasn’t much of a ‘buzz’ in the room, but this did not prevent us from doing some solid business! Plenty of fresh coins were offered to us and we’re still in the process of listing them on our site, so be on the lookout in the coming weeks.

Though the dinner dining choices were somewhat mundane this time (we sure do go to Cheesecake Factory a LOT), we did find a nice new Alehouse across the street from the convention center for lunch (no, we did not get any ale for lunch…this time…). We’ll be sure to go back there next time we’re in town.