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A Multiyear Quest to Find a Specific Coin Achieved Thanks to the Generosity of a Board Member

TomBTomB Posts: 20,276 ✭✭✭✭✭

Folks might recall that a few weeks ago I started a thread asking for help in finding a specific coin. The cert number was listed as being in the private inventory of a user, but was not listed in any registry set and there was no way to contact the owner through the PCGS site. Neither the identity of the coin nor the cert number were shared by me on the board as I did not want to place pressure on the owner of the coin to sell. Rather, my goal was to find out who might currently own the coin and then inquire as to its possible availability in a sale. The coin has now been located, the owner contacted and the coin resides again in my collection. I will share the (likely too long) background to the acquisition.

In early September, 2001 my in-laws were visiting us from their home in FL. My wife and I had not had kids yet, but we did have three cats and my wife’s favorite cat was rapidly succumbing to cancer. Upon their arrival, my mother-in-law (who was from Japan) went to see the cat and dropped to her knees to begin Buddhist prayers. She started to cry and then my wife started to cry while my father-in-law and I stayed in the background. A few days later the 9/11 attacks occurred and we, positioned between New York and Boston, were on edge like so many other folks in New England. I spent the day at the hospital I worked at in Providence, RI and we wondered if we would have to spring into action, as well.

That weekend, shortly before my in-laws made their drive back to FL, we went to a coin show in New Haven, CT. I had never attended that show before, but my father-in-law liked coins and I would always attempt to bring him to something local when they visited. There was no one in attendance at this show. The 9/11 attacks had put so much of life into a state of suspended animation and this show was within commuting distance to the fallen WTC towers. The show was silent. As I walked through the bourse there was only a single item that called my name. It was a 1952 year set in a Wayte Raymond National Coin Album page and the coins appeared to have lived together for decades.

The coins were mildly toned, generally matched and the nickels and cents were less toned than the silver issues. The page was set up in a PSD configuration instead of the PDS configuration that is so common today. This meant that the coins that occupied the center row were the San Francisco issues and the coin that was nearly in the center of the page was the 1952-S WQ. I approached the page and this is what I recall seeing-

I then flipped the page over expecting to see some cruddy coins, but instead the reverses were fine, too, though slightly less toned. Here is what I recall the reverse looking like-

I purchased the page of coins for a very reasonable price, perhaps due to the recent 9/11 events and the fear that many folks had regarding liquidity, and then promptly replaced the 1952-S WQ in the page with an extra 1952-S WQ that I had laying around. For those not in the hobby at that time, it was not unusual to find nicely toned coins raw at shows and these coins rarely sold for much money. Some folks specialized in toned coins, like me, but most paid little attention to these modern pieces and the Roosevelt dimes and WQs that were beautiful could be found with some regularity. The WQ that took the place of this coin was okay and nothing special, but matched the look of the remainder of the page quite well.

My in-laws left a few days later, the world was definitely changed post-9/11 and the cat passed away two weeks after that. My wife was devastated.

The WQ was sent to PCGS and I expected it go garner the MS67 grade. Again, for those not active in the hobby at that time, the system of awarding plus grades had not yet been implemented and the grade of MS67 was pretty much the unofficial ceiling for the silver WQ series. There had been five coins that had received the MS68 grade across the entirety of the 1932-1964 series and 1640-MS67 pieces while most issues had single digits or a few dozen MS67 coins graded. Today there are 167-MS68 coins and over 10,000 MS67 pieces. I was stunned when the coin was returned as a PCGS MS66.

Some time later we were expecting our first child and I thought I should move some extra coins. The 1952-S WQ was chosen to go with me to a Baltimore show, but I really didn’t want to sell it and I had it priced quite aggressively for the grade. After five dealers loved the coin, but balked at the price, I decided that if it did not sell to the sixth dealer that the coin would go home with me. Unfortunately, the sixth dealer specialized in toned coins and snapped the piece up. I immediately felt a pang of regret.

A few years later I decided to search for this WQ and found that it had sold twice in Heritage auctions, but both times as a PCGS MS67 with a new cert number. The second time it sold it had one of those vanity registry-pedigree labels with a collector’s name on it. The HA images did not do the coin justice and they looked like this (first sale on top and second sale on bottom)-

I knew it was the same coin and I knew it had a new grade and cert number, but the trail ended at that point. Later, the cert number that was associated with the coin as an MS67 also disappeared and became inactive. I was at a dead-end. Occasionally, I would search the available 1952-S WQs in dealer inventories or auction sites, but there was never a hit until one evening I was looking through all the 1952-S WQs imaged on CoinFacts and came across a coin that I knew immediately was my old piece. There it was, with a True View image, new cert number and previous MS67 grade, but the cert number neither led me to a set nor to an owner. Again, the trail ended.

Finally, I decided to start that PCGS thread asking for ideas as to how I might be able to contact someone by only knowing the cert number. One of the suggestions was to look at the coins immediately before and after the coin in question and see if any of those were in a published registry set. It was a good idea, but it led me nowhere. However, I kept plugging in cert numbers until I found a coin with a TV image that I recognized. It was a beautiful coin that I had sold to a client who also happened to be a PCGS board member. A few cert numbers later there was a TV for a second coin that I knew I had sold to the same client. I immediately reached out to the client and asked if he had the WQ in question and, if so, would he be willing to part with it for a very fair amount. He responded right away that he still had it and that the coin was mine if I wanted it. Holy Cow!

He told me he would ship it in a few days and would work up a price. A week or so later the package arrived and there was the coin, but no invoice and no price. The coin has that absolutely insane luster that the 1946-1954 S-mint WQs are known for, has tight arcs of color within LIBERTY and the date and has a reverse that glints like it is liquid silver in a furnace. Thankfully, no one ever attempted to remove the tiny speck of toning above IGWT that might appear as a detriment to some, but that I see as part of the history of the coin. I sent a message to the member who told me that the coin had so much history with me that he wanted me to have it as a gift. Holy Cow Again!

He also wanted to remain anonymous in any thread on the acquisition. So, anonymous PCGS board member, thank you for coming to my aid and for reuniting me with this coin that has so much value for me in the memories associated with it.

Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

In honor of the memory of Cpl. Michael E. Thompson



  • DRUNNERDRUNNER Posts: 3,775 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Superb coin . . . . . .


  • ironmanl63ironmanl63 Posts: 1,955 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Awesome coin and story. Awesome forum member for getting it back to you!

  • Project NumismaticsProject Numismatics Posts: 1,153 ✭✭✭✭✭

    What a story! Thanks for posting!

  • spacehaydukespacehayduke Posts: 5,072 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great story Tom! Thanks for sharing it!!

    Successful transactions with-Boosibri,lkeigwin,TomB,Broadstruck,coinsarefun,Type2,jom,ProfLiz, UltraHighRelief,Barndog,EXOJUNKIE,ldhair,fivecents,paesan,Crusty...
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  • CrustyCrusty Posts: 1,042 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Glad you found the coin and was able to acquire it back. Kudos to the anonymous board member.

  • braddickbraddick Posts: 22,506 ✭✭✭✭✭

    So sweet!
    A lovely coin is only followed by a wonderful story of goodwill and kindness.


  • AdamLAdamL Posts: 165 ✭✭✭

    What a great turn of events. And your story made for an interesting read.

  • jesbrokenjesbroken Posts: 8,707 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Congrats, I have looked for a few coins I let go, but have never had them show up. I have asked here also, to no avail.
    I am so glad you have been reunited with your Washington Quarter. That is an amazing remembrance.

    When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken or cease to be honest....Abraham Lincoln

    Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.
  • robecrobec Posts: 6,385 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great story and great sleuthing. Congratulations to both of you, you as the recipient of the gift and the anonymous board member for his generosity. A big 👍

  • WilliamFWilliamF Posts: 832 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Incredible story and what a stunning WQ! I love happy endings :)

    ."It's a dangerous business... going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to" -JRR Tolkien_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Outstanding BST transactions as a seller, buyer and trader with: ----- mustanggt, Kliao, claudewill87, MWallace, paesan, mpbuck82, moursund, basetsb, lordmarcovan, JWP, Coin hunter 4, COINS MAKE CENTS, PerryHall, Aspie_Rocco, Braddick, DBSTrader2, SanctionII, Histman, The_Dinosaur_Man, jesbroken, CentSearcher ------ANA Member #3214817

  • FloridafacelifterFloridafacelifter Posts: 1,053 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice work! Thanks for sharing a great story!

  • divecchiadivecchia Posts: 6,459 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That is a great story and the coin although nice is only secondary to the memories it must bring back. I applaud your dedication to finding this coin. That to me makes this coin priceless.

    Congratulations on the conclusion of this epic hunt.


    Hobbyist & Collector (not an investor).
    Donato's Complete US Type Set ---- Donato's Dansco 7070 Modified Type Set ---- Donato's Basic U.S. Coin Design Set

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  • pursuitoflibertypursuitofliberty Posts: 6,354 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Karmic balance, and what a great coin ... superb indeed! <3

    Congrat's Tom ... and to whoever the anonymous member is, the highest praise!

    “We are only their care-takers,” he posed, “if we take good care of them, then centuries from now they may still be here … ”

    Todd - BHNC #242
  • streeterstreeter Posts: 4,312 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Someone is looking out for you.

    Have a nice day
  • CatbertCatbert Posts: 6,264 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Incredible story and wonderful generosity. Big congrats Tom!

    "Got a flaming heart, can't get my fill"
  • CoinscratchCoinscratch Posts: 7,430 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great story and coin. Love that liquid luster - I’d like it as a plus.

  • airplanenutairplanenut Posts: 21,756 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great coin and great story, too! I'm very glad I opened this thread.

    JK Coin Photography - eBay Consignments | High Quality Photos | LOW Prices | 20% of Consignment Proceeds Go to Pancreatic Cancer Research
  • Mr_SpudMr_Spud Posts: 3,974 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very nice 👍🏻


  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,495 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This is exactly why every collector should consider joining the boards. Great story and generosity!

  • cheezhedcheezhed Posts: 5,616 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks for sharing your story and your coin.

    Many happy BST transactions
  • BryceMBryceM Posts: 11,593 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Do you have any idea how unlikely it is that you were able to track down this particular coin? Mind-boggling. Cool.

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @TomB.... That is quite the story. Congratulations on re-acquiring a coin that is so important to you. I would wager it will not be leaving your collection again. Cheers, RickO

  • WAYNEASWAYNEAS Posts: 6,120 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A great story with fantastic endings.
    I equate it to finding the proverbial "needle in a haystack".
    It is a beautiful looking coin.
    Thanks for sharing @TomB.

    Kennedys are my quest...

  • privatecoinprivatecoin Posts: 2,998 ✭✭✭✭✭


    Paper money eventually returns to its intrinsic value. Zero. Voltaire. Ebay coinbowlllc

  • coinkatcoinkat Posts: 22,424 ✭✭✭✭✭

    great story and even a better outcome

    Experience the World through Numismatics...it's more than you can imagine.

  • nwcoastnwcoast Posts: 2,707 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Really cool story with a happy ending.
    Thanks for sharing and congratulations with a heartfelt thanks to the fellow board member that bestowed this gift.

    Happy, humble, honored and proud recipient of the “You Suck” award 10/22/2014

  • psuman08psuman08 Posts: 177 ✭✭✭

    Great story. Glad you were able to get your coin back.

  • snizzlesnizzle Posts: 204 ✭✭✭✭

    I enjoyed reading your story thanks for sharing

  • GoldbullyGoldbully Posts: 16,719 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This is what coin collecting is all about. Great story @TomB.

  • youniqueyounique Posts: 882 ✭✭✭

    Fabulous search and rescue, maybe a tip is in order!

  • SanctionIISanctionII Posts: 11,365 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Beautiful coin and a great story. Glad you have this coin back in your collection.

  • gumby1234gumby1234 Posts: 5,170 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow what are the chances of finding that coin again. Congrats on finding it.
    Anonymous board member you rock.

    Successful BST with ad4400, Kccoin, lablover, pointfivezero, koynekwest, jwitten, coin22lover, HalfDimeDude, erwindoc, jyzskowsi, COINS MAKE CENTS, AlanSki, BryceM

  • OnastoneOnastone Posts: 3,678 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I love a great back story!!!!! This could almost be made into a movie!

  • ldhairldhair Posts: 7,014 ✭✭✭✭✭

    There are some great people in this hobby that do good things for others.
    Really cool story.


  • NicNic Posts: 3,313 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great story and congratulations Tom. Sweet coin. Kudos to the board member!

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