Coin Collector Blog

Mullen Coins Collection Blog provides valuable articles and content about coin collections, rare coins, currency, antiquities and interesting reviews of news and events within the numismatic community.

The Story of the 1909 Lincoln Wheat Cent

The Story of the 1909 Lincoln Wheat Cent

Collectors of U.S. coins will no doubt be familiar with the many iterations of the Lincoln cent, but most of the public will go their whole lives without paying any attention to the details of this ubiquitous coin. It’s as familiar to Americans as baseball, and yet it’s completely overlooked, the story behind this everyday object unknown. 

Interestingly enough, the man behind this famous miniature portrait of Lincoln wasn’t American. He was Victor David Brenner, but he was born Viktoras Baranauskas to a Jewish family living in  Šiauliai, Lithuania - which in 1871 was a garrison town on the edge of the Russian Empire. At age 19, rather than be exiled to Siberia, he immigrated to the United States and settled in New York City.

Continue reading
  2689 Hits
  0 Comments
2689 Hits
0 Comments

What Is the Difference between a Coin and a Medal?


Coin collecting has come crossover with other hobbies like stamp collecting or antiquing in the sense that these hobbies involve people seeking out everyday items that have managed to increase in value over time, no matter their original value.

When a single coin is minted among thousands, tens of thousands, or millions, the odds that it will become very valuable over time are small. However, as we discussed before, coins can be struck with errorsthey can be melted down, or otherwise be lost to time, with the result being that a once common coin becomes very rare. People will pay a great deal of money for rare coins. The same is true for everyday objects, and some of them are very coin-like so they have quite a bit of overlap with coins.

Continue reading
  5046 Hits
  0 Comments
5046 Hits
0 Comments

Gold Coins Help Identify Lost Battle of Teutoburg Forest Site

Battle-of-Teutoburg-Forest

We’ve talked numerous times about how coins have historical consequence. Most are designed or minted as a commemoration of an important event or person or are the result of politicking or maneuvering by various people in power interested in maintaining their power. Another way coins have historical importance is that they can be used to date or identify people, places, or things.

Recently archeologists in Kalkriese unearthed eight Roman coins that historians believe may be the key to identifying the site of Rome’s greatest defeat: the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. You may wonder how the site of Rome’s greatest defeat could have gone missing, given the importance of Rome in the ancient world and the fact that this battle was hardly obscure and went on to have far-reaching effects for Rome and greater Europe. It’s an interesting story.

Continue reading
  3000 Hits
  0 Comments
3000 Hits
0 Comments

The History of the Gold Sovereign

The History of the Gold Sovereign

The British gold sovereign is another coin that was designed and minted as a result of a politics.

People unfamiliar with the strife, plotting, unseating, and court intrigue that resulted when Henry of Bolingbroke, one grandson of Edward III, rose up and deposed Richard II, another of his grandsons, might be interested to know that the civil war depicted in the popular television show, Game of Thrones, is loosely based on the chaos of this period - the Wars of the Roses - in English history. For nearly a century, the country saw assassination attempts, imprisoned kings, secret marriages, brothers betraying brothers, and, of course, the famous missing and murdered Princes in the Tower.

Continue reading
  2465 Hits
  0 Comments
2465 Hits
0 Comments

What Determines the Price for Rare Coins?

What Determines the Price for Rare Coins?

People often wonder why certain coins are so expensive and others are worth very little at all. Is there any rhyme or reason for this and can coin collectors in Grand Rapids and elsewhere predict at what prices specific coins will sell or auction for?

The answer is yes - and no. Like most everything in our economy, price is determined by supply and demand. This is a basic principle of economics. If there is an oversupply of bananas at the store, the store will lower the price in order to get rid of its inventory. In the case of bananas, the price will lower faster because of the short shelf life of the produce, but price can drop (or rise) suddenly for non-perishable goods like coins as well.

Continue reading
  3575 Hits
  1 Comment
Recent comment in this post
Guest — Avantika
Wow.. these are some amazing coin collecting tips for someone like me who likes collecting Indian coins.. thanks for sharing.. C... Read More
Wednesday, 28 September 2016 06:52
3575 Hits
1 Comment

How Coins Preserve Human History

How Coins Preserve Human History

Most people are familiar with the idea that certain coins are valuable in terms of money. They can be bought or sold and retain value based on their condition, scarcity, and design. However, not as many people think about the ways that coins serve history as evidence of human activity and behavior patterns, how they can establish dates for historians or archaeologists, or what they tells us about humanity’s changing values over time.

We mentioned this before when we talked about the Spanish piece of eight. The success and breadth of influence of the Spanish empire worldwide was partly due to this coin. When they found silver riches beyond imagining in Bolivia, this elevated the status of Spain relative to other countries in Europe in the world because silver was inherently valuable. It could be used to pay soldiers to fight Spain’s wars. It could be used to trade for goods and services other countries couldn’t bargain for. It could finance further exploration. The Spanish took their silver with them in coins wherever they went, and war and commerce followed. Any time a piece of eight is discovered in a dig site far, far from Spain, it tells you more about the might and influence of the Spanish.

Continue reading
  2968 Hits
  0 Comments
2968 Hits
0 Comments

The First American Commemorative Coin

The First American Commemorative Coin

Can you guess what the very first commemorative coin the U.S. Mint issued was and when?

If you guessed the 1892 Columbian half dollar, you would be right. This coin was unique in American history in its historical significance, its purpose, and its appearance. Let’s examine these further.

Continue reading
  2826 Hits
  0 Comments
2826 Hits
0 Comments

Why Aren't There More Civil War Coins?

Why Aren't There More Civil War Coins?

An American Civil War enthusiast who goes looking for tangible Civil War history in the form of coins might be disappointed to find out how few coins exist that relate directly to this conflict, particularly Confederate coins. This is the case for a number of reasons.

The economic character and position of the North was quite different from that of the South. Northern states had far larger and more populated cities, much more industry, and a more modern economy. Comparatively, much of the South was still quite rural, and its exports - cotton being king - were raw goods. The people of the South imported most of their manufactured goods, many of which were made in the factories of the North with immigrant labor.

Continue reading
  3903 Hits
  0 Comments
3903 Hits
0 Comments

The American Money Experiment

The American Money Experiment

In the twentieth century the dollar became the global reserve currency when in 1944 the world’s developed countries met at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire and pegged the exchange rate of all their currencies to the U.S. dollar. Prior to that, most countries were on the gold standard which meant that, upon demand, they would redeem their paper currency for gold and kept enough gold in reserves to do so.

Eventually the United States abandoned the gold standard, when Richard Nixon completely untethered the value of the dollar to gold, but by then the U.S. had the most robust economy of any country in the world, so it remained the dominant reserve currency. Is there a country in the world where you cannot exchange dollars for the local currency?

Continue reading
  2494 Hits
  1 Comment
Recent comment in this post
Guest — Mark David
WOW!! Great tips for maintain budget, currency and coins. Thanks for sharing these valuable tips. Thanks, Mark! So much to learn--... Read More
Sunday, 04 December 2016 09:07
2494 Hits
1 Comment

The Historical Importance of the Spanish Piece of Eight

The Historical Importance of the Spanish Piece of Eight

Before the Morgan dollar, or even the pinetree shilling, metal coinage existed in the American colonies. Much of it was coinage that had been brought over with the early settlers from their home countries, but one particular coin originated in the Americas and could not, in fact, have existed as it did except for the wealth found in the New World. This is the Spanish piece of eight.

If you know your American history, you’ll know that the English were not the first to explore North America. They were simply the ones who settled most of what is now the United States and Canada. Many countries in Europe were interested in finding and claiming new territories. These include France, the Netherlands, Portugal, and, of course, Spain.

Continue reading
  7706 Hits
  0 Comments
7706 Hits
0 Comments

The Colonial Coin that Wasn't: American Plantation Token of 1688

American-Plantation-Token-

Previously we discussed the situation of coinage in the American colonies and how a shortage of coins led to the creation of the Pinetree Shilling by the Boston Mint. Here was a coin that came about because of necessity but was never officially accepted by the authorities in Great Britain. Political chaos caused by the English Civil War and its aftermath stalled any action, however, and the Pinetree Shilling continued to be minted in Massachusetts until 1682, long after Charles II became king. It was a highly useful coin.

Another colonial coin had the opposite story: it was conceived of not as a practical tool, but as a way to help the tin mining industry. It had at least the pending sanction of King James II, but it was very likely never in circulation due to yet another overthrow of the English Crown. This was the American Plantation Token of 1688.

Continue reading
  4014 Hits
  0 Comments
4014 Hits
0 Comments

What Was the Pittman Act of 1918?

What Was the Pittman Act of 1918?

Sponsored by Democratic Senator from Nevada, Key Pittman, the Pittman Act of 1918 “authorized the conversion of not exceeding 350,000,000 standard silver dollars into bullion and its sale, or use for subsidiary silver coinage, and directed purchase of domestic silver for recoinage of a like number of dollars.” 

The main reason for the passage of this act was the need to finance the Great War in Europe. Wars require troops, armaments, and munitions, and all of that requires money. Gold quickly became scarce as all money of intrinsic value does during war, but America had quite a lot of silver dollars in circulation. There were far more than were being used for commercial needs, although eventually America’s entrance into the war did create a demand for all coins. 

Continue reading
  7617 Hits
  0 Comments
7617 Hits
0 Comments

Early American Coins: the Pinetree Shilling

Early American Coins: the Pinetree Shilling

When people think about American money, they think about the coins and currency that are probably sitting in their wallets right now. It never occurs to many people that there weren’t always dollars and quarters, nickels and dimes. But, of course, American money has a history like every other tool out there, and before there was U.S. currency people still used money to buy and sell things. What did they use?

While every July 4th we celebrate Independence Day, it’s important to remember that the American colonies weren’t a country, per se, until after the Revolutionary War was well under way and delegates to the Second Continental Congress drafted the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union and then went back to their own colonies to see it ratified. This finally occurred in 1781. Remember, the war ended in 1783, and this needed to occur in order to manage military and monetary affairs, as well as to solicit the support from foreign countries needed to win the war.

Continue reading
  3476 Hits
  0 Comments
3476 Hits
0 Comments

Why Collect Double Eagles?

Why Collect Double Eagles?

Double eagles are another type of collectible coin rooted in a key period of American history - which makes collecting them interesting for both coin and history aficionados.

Would there have been a double eagle coin without the California Gold Rush? Very likely not. The double eagle, a $20 U.S. coin, was first minted in 1849, two coins in proof, after an Act of Congress authorized them. Prior to this there was neither gold in quantity to mint them or a practical necessity for a $20 coin. Double eagles began to be minted regularly the following year, in 1850, and continued to be until 1933. Before 1850, the largest coin denomination was the $10 eagle. Since the face value of the new coin was twice that of the eagle, it was called the double eagle.

Continue reading
  3938 Hits
  0 Comments
3938 Hits
0 Comments

What Do You Know about the Morgan Dollar?

What Do You Know about the Morgan Dollar?
Anna Williams.jpg

The coining of the Morgan dollar followed the Fourth Coinage Act of 1873 which demonetized silver bullion. The “Free Silver” issue is something Americans might have a hard time understanding now, but prior to 1873, people could bring their silver (or gold) bullion to the mint and, for a small processing fee, have it made into coins which would be worth their face value and could be spent.

At that time the ratio of the value of gold to silver was 16:1, meaning that 16 ounces of silver was considered equal in value to one ounce of gold. The problem was that, with increased mining of silver in the west, the price of silver was dropping rapidly, which meant that savvy bullion owners could take their devalued silver to the mint and, by having it made into coin, make a profit.

Continue reading
  4224 Hits
  1 Comment
Recent comment in this post
Guest — phil
what is the ngc ms65 mean? NGC stands for Numismatic Guaranty Corporation. This is a third-party service often used to ... Read More
Saturday, 09 January 2016 11:05
4224 Hits
1 Comment

Mining California Fractional Gold

California-fractional-gold
b2ap3_thumbnail_fractional.jpg

American history has frequently been one of fads and extremes, and the fifth decade of the nineteenth century gives us another fine example: the California Gold Rush. While Americans had been moving westward almost since they put foot on Plymouth Rock, on January 24, 1848, at the time gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, what we know today as California was a part of Alta California, a Mexican territory. San Francisco was tiny; only 200 people lived there in 1846.

That changed almost overnight. Despite the fact that there was at the time no straightforward or fast way to get to the West Coast from the East, a flood of Americans and immigrants set off by ship traveling either all the way around the tip of South America or down to Panama, overland, then up the coast via the Pacific Ocean. Others drove wagons west on the California Trail. The influx of 300,000 people from all around the world created a number of problems, and one of them was currency.

Continue reading
  3799 Hits
  0 Comments
3799 Hits
0 Comments

The Story of the Currency of the Old National Bank of Grand Rapids

panhot.jpg
ONBGR note.jpg
McKay Tower.jpeg

People who have grown up using a universal United States currency are often surprised to learn how diverse historical American coinage and currency is. Local and state banks issued their own money, backed by reserve currency, and did business for hundreds of years this way. It wasn’t until 1863 that President Lincoln signed the National Bank Act into law. This created the United States National Banking System, a prototype of what we use today:

“The National Banking Act (ch. 58, 12 Stat. 665; February 25, 1863), originally known as the National Currency Act, and was passed in the Senate by a narrow 23–21 vote. The main goal of this act was to create a single national currency and to eradicate the problem of notes from multiple banks circulating all at once. The Act established national banks that could issue notes which were backed by the United States Treasury and printed by the government itself. The quantity of notes that a bank was allowed to issue was proportional to the bank's level of capital deposited with the Comptroller of the Currency at the Treasury. To further control the currency, the Act taxed notes issued by state and local banks, essentially pushing non-federally issued paper out of circulation.”

Continue reading
  4405 Hits
  0 Comments
4405 Hits
0 Comments

How Do Coin Errors Occur during Minting?

coin-errors-1

Those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of coin collecting may be surprised to learn that coin errors - mistakes made when coins are minted - often enhance rather than detract from the value of said coin. While flaws that decrease a coin’s attractiveness can also decrease its value, error coins, or flawed coins made in the mint during the coin-making process, are also rare. This is because minting defects happen rarely, particularly with the advent of modern technology. Additionally, most error coins are detected before they are issued into the coinage, and they are recycled and remade in their proper form.

In order to understand why errors occur, it’s useful to understand how coin minting has been done historically and is done now. Here’s a fun primer from the U.S. Mint. A problem in each step of the minting results in a different type of coin error. Here are some of the most common types:

Continue reading
  3654 Hits
  0 Comments
3654 Hits
0 Comments

5 Ways to Introduce New Coin Collectors to the Hobby

b2ap3_thumbnail_50-States-Quarters.jpg

As with any hobby, any good coin collector wants to find other people who share his passion and are willing to participate in exploring it with him. There are many groups, local, state, national, and international, dedicated to bringing coin collectors together, but another way to make this goal happen is to convert the people around you to your hobby.

Who should you start with? Well, cross off the people you know have no interest in collecting, paying attention to value and detail, or exploring history. Those are prerequisites for this hobby. To quote a famous book, “Cast not your pearls before swine.” Instead, look around your circle of acquaintance for like-minded souls, and, if they are few and far between, look younger. While you may have coworkers or friends with similar interest, people get set in their ways as they age. The great thing about younger people is that they have so much world to be introduced to, and they are still excited about that introduction. So if you have kids or nieces and nephews, they may the ideal audience to share your coins with.

Continue reading
  3156 Hits
  0 Comments
3156 Hits
0 Comments

Where Will the Next Big Coin Discovery Be Made?

Where Will the Next Big Coin Discovery Be Made?
zeus

Amazing coin finds have been all over the news in the past several months. At SUNY Buffalo, faculty member Philip Kiernan recently hunted down a “lost” collection of Greek and Roman coins, both gold and silver, that had only been a rumor for decades. The coins’ previous owner, Thomas Lockwood, donated the coins, some of which date back to the fifth century B.C., as part of a larger donation of literature and relics. Twelve of the coins are a collection of Roman coins, one from the reign of the first twelve Roman Emperors, including a very rare coin featuring the Emperor Otho. He ruled only three months.

These coins had remained in archival storage for decades until Kiernan tracked them down. He is now planning a graduate level course around them so that students can use the coins as tangible aids to their study of history - the same purpose Lockwood originally purchased them. Fortunately for these students and the university, the coins did not show damage, despite the fact that the were not properly stored.

Continue reading
  2732 Hits
  0 Comments
2732 Hits
0 Comments

PCGS NGC Michigan State Numismatic Society 

Mullen Coins, LLC, Coin Dealers, Supplies, Grand Rapids, MI

 PMG Authorized DealerWest Michigan Coin Club