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1964 SMS coins - What I’ve heard, what I’ve seen, what I know and what I don’t know about them

MFeldMFeld Posts: 11,730 ✭✭✭✭✭
edited February 11, 2024 12:34PM in U.S. Coin Forum

To my knowledge, no documentation of their production or discovery has surfaced and I don’t think it ever will. Some numismatists even doubt that the coins were specially made. Highly regarded numismatic researcher and author, Roger W. Burdette, holds such a view.

Last year, out of the blue, I received a call from a coin dealer I’ve known for roughly 40 years. He’d seen a thread about the 1964 SMS coins on this forum and decided to share his personal experiences with me. He also gave me permission to disclose the details of our conversation. As best I can remember, the following is what he told me, none of which I have reason to doubt:

The dealer was friends with coin dealer Lester Merkin. One day (in either 1991 or 1992) while he was at Lester Merkin’s office, Mr. Merkin pulled some coins out of his desk drawer and handed them to him to look at.
The coins weren’t in special holders or accompanied by any paperwork. But you can probably guess what date they were. There were approximately 4 or 5 sets, cents through half dollars. The dealer (who is highly expert) was immediately convinced that he was looking at some very distinctive, special coins. Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.

Sometime not too long afterwards, Lester Merkin passed away. The dealer was subsequently contacted by Mr. Merkin’s widow, who mentioned the coins to him. He was sure they were valuable, but he chose not to try to buy them from her. As far as the dealer knows, Mrs. Merkin consigned the coins to Stack’s and they were auctioned in the early 90’s.

Speaking of the early 90’s, I happened to be a grader at NGC from 1991-1998. And while I was there, (edited from “a handful”) several unusual 1964 sets were submitted to us for grading by a well known dealer who’d purchased them out of Stack’s auctions. I think that we at NGC, were the first graders to see the coins. Most, though not all of them looked quite distinctive/specially made. And as a result, if memory serves me correctly, not all of the coins were given special designations. I remember thinking it was a tough call to do that, seeing as how we were examining complete sets. But ultimately, we felt that each coin needed to stand on its own merits.

It’s clear that the dealer who contacted me didn’t see all of the 1964 SMS sets that have surfaced, as he only remembered having seen approximately 4 to 5 of them. And, while it would be fun to speculate as to how the other sets entered the marketplace, I choose not to do so.

Admittedly, If I were to see a post like this on a coin forum, I’d be at least somewhat skeptical, regardless of who wrote it. So I certainly won’t take it personally if this post is questioned, doubted or debated. But I hope it has at least called into question, some of the inaccurate “information” about the discovery and source of 1964 SMS coins that has persisted for so many years.

Edited to add:
After making the referenced dealer aware of this thread, he gave me permission to disclose his name - Steve Blum. He also messaged me with the following: “…Lester’s widow gave me the contents of his desk and included the SMS sets. I let her know the coins were very rare and I could sell them for her. She immediately decided to give them to Stacks. I wanted to do the right thing since Lester was a good friend.”

Mark Feld* of Heritage Auctions*Unless otherwise noted, my posts here represent my personal opinions.

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Comments

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,306 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That is VERY interesting...

  • CryptoCrypto Posts: 3,346 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I always wonder if their were similar to the cheerio coins. They were the first of the last silver coins that were made for a couple of years. There were differently made by operational necessity and not by plan. There is always variations to finishes so I couldn’t ever bring my self to care unless there was a kicker like die variety or documentation.

    I tend to shy away for “story coins” that ascertain their value from unprovable hype. Even if they were SMS that was more a mint set logistics than truly special, the only ones of those worth a salt are the cameos. Most of those Look like pocket change

  • sellitstoresellitstore Posts: 2,362 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My experience with these coins was only viewing some (all?) of the ones that Stack's offered in the early 1990s. I was attending many major auctions at the time and had viewed many thousands of coins, as part of my strategy was to look at as much material as possible and try to catch bargains. I had seen and handled many proof sets and SMS sets.

    I wasn't impressed by the coins. Yes, some did look a bit different but not enough to convince me that they weren't just early and/or sharp strikes. Just as there were differences among different 1964 proof sets and among 1965 SMS sets, these coins varied somewhat but were within what I would consider normal for each type of coin.

    Collector and dealer in obsolete currency. Always buying all obsolete bank notes and scrip.
  • JBKJBK Posts: 14,530 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A question: assuming that there are SMS coins, could the same dies have been used to produce non-SMS coins?

    Wishful collectors point to die markers, so I was just wondering.

  • wondercoinwondercoin Posts: 16,615 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Please visit my website at www.wondercoins.com and my ebay auctions under my user name www.wondercoin.com.
  • ifthevamzarockinifthevamzarockin Posts: 8,498 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @JBK said:
    A question: assuming that there are SMS coins, could the same dies have been used to produce non-SMS coins?

    There are other examples of proof dies being used for business strikes, no reason SMS dies would not have been used. ;)

  • MFeldMFeld Posts: 11,730 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    Mark Feld* of Heritage Auctions*Unless otherwise noted, my posts here represent my personal opinions.

  • coinbufcoinbuf Posts: 10,620 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    Do you know of any other sources that 64 SMS coins have come from? I have always heard that the only coins to be certified came from the Adams estate, if that is not true then it really upsets the apple cart on the whole idea that there are any true 64 SMS coins at all. And it would seem that perhaps Roger is correct in his theory.

    My Lincoln Registry
    My Collection of Old Holders

    Never a slave to one plastic brand will I ever be.
  • MFeldMFeld Posts: 11,730 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @coinbuf said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    Do you know of any other sources that 64 SMS coins have come from? I have always heard that the only coins to be certified came from the Adams estate, if that is not true then it really upsets the apple cart on the whole idea that there are any true 64 SMS coins at all. And it would seem that perhaps Roger is correct in his theory.

    I don’t know of any other sources. And while I believe the coins originated from Adams, if so, it would have been while she was living, not through her estate.

    Mark Feld* of Heritage Auctions*Unless otherwise noted, my posts here represent my personal opinions.

  • MFeldMFeld Posts: 11,730 ✭✭✭✭✭

    After making the referenced dealer aware of this thread, he gave me permission to disclose his name - Steve Blum. He also messaged me with the following: “…Lester’s widow gave me the contents of his desk and included the SMS sets. I let her know the coins were very rare and I could sell them for her. She immediately decided to give them to Stacks. I wanted to do the right thing since Lester was a good friend.”

    Mark Feld* of Heritage Auctions*Unless otherwise noted, my posts here represent my personal opinions.

  • wondercoinwondercoin Posts: 16,615 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Abductive reasoning supports the “theory” that the coins were indeed specially struck.

    Remember - “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck."

    Just my 2 cents.

    Wondercoin

    Please visit my website at www.wondercoins.com and my ebay auctions under my user name www.wondercoin.com.
  • MFeldMFeld Posts: 11,730 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @FlyingAl said:
    Oh, where to start.

    I've been working on research over these coins for the last few months, and I'm nearly done. My draft work is currently 26 pages long, including pictures and mint documents.

    I'm in the final drafting stages of that work. I will post it here as soon as it's done, but right now it's not ready. This is one piece of work I want to be sure to get right. It is quite shocking how little research has been done on these.

    I do not agree with the present view of PCGS on these coins. The facts do not show that these coins are anything special.

    To add to the already going conversation, 15 mostly complete sets were sold by Stacks in the 1990s. Merkin's estate was sold after his death in 1992, where none of these sets appear in his specific estate sale. However, it is likely a few sets did come from his estate, and several sources have confirmed this. This may give credibility to Mark's contact's story, but no hard evidence supports the claim these ever came from Adams. The hard facts do not necessarily confirm or deny that.

    At least three sets had been sold before Merkin's death, which shows more than one person had these sets. If Merkin only had five, then ten others were somehow distributed.

    There is so much to share here, but I just ask for a little bit of patience while I'm finishing my work. Final drafts are being made and sent to numismatic researchers to proofread. Again, the emphasis is on accuracy and facts.

    Thank you, Alex.

    Mark Feld* of Heritage Auctions*Unless otherwise noted, my posts here represent my personal opinions.

  • coinbufcoinbuf Posts: 10,620 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @wondercoin said:
    Abductive reasoning supports the “theory” that the coins were indeed specially struck.

    Remember - “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck."

    Just my 2 cents.

    Wondercoin

    Guessing is not sound science.

    My Lincoln Registry
    My Collection of Old Holders

    Never a slave to one plastic brand will I ever be.
  • robecrobec Posts: 6,538 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

  • StuartStuart Posts: 9,761 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 11, 2024 10:11AM

    Mark, Thanks for posting such an interesting and historically significant thread.

    This discussion reminds me of several discussions I’ve had in the past with Roger Burdette (RWB) about 1921 (VAM-1H) Peace Dollars, that many believe were struck under 150 Ton High Pressure Hydraulic Minting presses, presumably using “Satin Proof” Dies, during the last few days of 1921.

    With credit to Roger, who provided me with this information, 1921 (First Year) High Relief Peace Dollars were initially struck using 150 tons of pressure in an attempt to obtain fully struck desgn details, which had an adverse affect on wearing and breaking the dies.

    They then backed off to 120 Tons of pressure for the remaining 1921 Peace Dollars. Total 1921 Peace Dollar mintage was 1 million coins. Mintage details are provided in RWB's (Roger Burdette's) "A Guide Book of Peace Dollars" Red Book published by Whitman.

    Once one recognizes the Strong Strike, Unique Luster characteristics, and Die Markers they are relatively easy to differentiate from typically struck examples.

    If interested in pursuing this further, you can search this forums thread archives for my numerous posts of 1921 Peace Dollars, including VAM-1H images.



    Stuart

    Collect 18th & 19th Century US Type Coins, Silver Dollars, $20 Gold Double Eagles and World Crowns & Talers with High Eye Appeal

    "Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity"
  • Are these coins similar to proof coins at the end of the use of a die life ?
    Where the frost & cameo images seems to fade to a brilliant uncirculated coin ?
    Much like below.

    Chris

  • MFeldMFeld Posts: 11,730 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Because they were supposedly given to Merkin by Adams while she was alive, whereas “estate” is often used to indicate that the person is no longer living. I don’t know if he was asked to give them back. However, based on having met him and what I’ve heard from others about him, I believe that if asked, he would have returned the coins.

    Mark Feld* of Heritage Auctions*Unless otherwise noted, my posts here represent my personal opinions.

  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,756 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Evidence proves these coins did not come from the Adams estate.

    It is quite possible Adams is not connected to these coins in any way. Mark's post above details the only connection to Adams, and it is not confirmed by official documents.

  • robecrobec Posts: 6,538 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MFeld said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Because they were supposedly given to Merkin by Adams while she was alive, whereas “estate” is often used to indicate that the person is no longer living. I don’t know if he was asked to give them back. However, based on having met him and what I’ve heard from others about him, I believe that if asked, he would have returned the coins.

    I understand that estate indicates the person is no longer alive. That is why I asked if these were given to him for keeps or to show around and eventually come back to Adams. Where did Adams get them to give? Were they hers to give or property of the US Mint? Quite a windfall of a gift.

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Evidence proves these coins did not come from the Adams estate.

    It is quite possible Adams is not connected to these coins in any way. Mark's post above details the only connection to Adams, and it is not confirmed by official documents.

    How can they have no connection to Adams if she was the one who gave them to Merkin? We’re finding a few things not officially documented.

  • cmerlo1cmerlo1 Posts: 7,890 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 11, 2024 10:37AM

    @SilverEagle1974 said:
    Are these coins similar to proof coins at the end of the use of a die life ?
    Where the frost & cameo images seems to fade to a brilliant uncirculated coin ?
    Much like below.

    Chris

    I continue believe 1964 proofs come in 2 equally-common finishes, brilliant and satin, with both showing proof characteristics but the satin having lustrous fields instead of mirrored ones. I don't believe it is from die wear because the satin ones can be found with cameo contrast.

    I think at least some of the cases where someone says they have a 1964 coin that looks 'special' can be attributed to them actually looking at satin examples, because they haven't seen a 1964 SMS coin in photos or in person. I have seen this at the ANACS table, with people bringing a satin proof 1964 coin, believing it is an SMS coin.

    I did examine the SMS half in the Tyrant collection (as best I could looking at it through the glass) and to me, it didn't look like 1965-1967 SMS coins or satin proofs. I honestly found it unremarkable, at least to me.

    You Suck! Awarded 6/2008- 1901-O Micro O Morgan, 8/2008- 1878 VAM-123 Morgan, 9/2022 1888-O VAM-1B3 H8 Morgan | Senior Regional Representative- ANACS Coin Grading. Posted opinions on coins are my own, and are not an official ANACS opinion.
  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,756 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Because they were supposedly given to Merkin by Adams while she was alive, whereas “estate” is often used to indicate that the person is no longer living. I don’t know if he was asked to give them back. However, based on having met him and what I’ve heard from others about him, I believe that if asked, he would have returned the coins.

    I understand that estate indicates the person is no longer alive. That is why I asked if these were given to him for keeps or to show around and eventually come back to Adams. Where did Adams get them to give? Were they hers to give or property of the US Mint? Quite a windfall of a gift.

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Evidence proves these coins did not come from the Adams estate.

    It is quite possible Adams is not connected to these coins in any way. Mark's post above details the only connection to Adams, and it is not confirmed by official documents.

    How can they have no connection to Adams if she was the one who gave them to Merkin? We’re finding a few things not officially documented.

    I'm saying there is no PROVEN connection to Adams. There's merely one person's statement, which I don't consider strong proof.

  • robecrobec Posts: 6,538 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Because they were supposedly given to Merkin by Adams while she was alive, whereas “estate” is often used to indicate that the person is no longer living. I don’t know if he was asked to give them back. However, based on having met him and what I’ve heard from others about him, I believe that if asked, he would have returned the coins.

    I understand that estate indicates the person is no longer alive. That is why I asked if these were given to him for keeps or to show around and eventually come back to Adams. Where did Adams get them to give? Were they hers to give or property of the US Mint? Quite a windfall of a gift.

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Evidence proves these coins did not come from the Adams estate.

    It is quite possible Adams is not connected to these coins in any way. Mark's post above details the only connection to Adams, and it is not confirmed by official documents.

    How can they have no connection to Adams if she was the one who gave them to Merkin? We’re finding a few things not officially documented.

    I'm saying there is no PROVEN connection to Adams. There's merely one person's statement, which I don't consider strong proof.

    It seems to me that there is more proof of connection to Adams, via Blum’s conversation with Merkin saying they were given to him by Adams, than there is documentation of 1964 SMS coins even existing.

  • braddickbraddick Posts: 22,845 ✭✭✭✭✭

    i recall 20- 25 years or so ago reading the one and only MS69 1964 PCGS Kennedy half used to be in an SMS68 NGC holder.
    Mark, do you recall anything of this nature? Perhaps I have the order in reverse- I just remember thinking it was a highly unusual and attractive coin.
    (This was back in the day when I was seeking out these coins for a PCGS registry.)

    peacockcoins

  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,756 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @robec said:

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Because they were supposedly given to Merkin by Adams while she was alive, whereas “estate” is often used to indicate that the person is no longer living. I don’t know if he was asked to give them back. However, based on having met him and what I’ve heard from others about him, I believe that if asked, he would have returned the coins.

    I understand that estate indicates the person is no longer alive. That is why I asked if these were given to him for keeps or to show around and eventually come back to Adams. Where did Adams get them to give? Were they hers to give or property of the US Mint? Quite a windfall of a gift.

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Evidence proves these coins did not come from the Adams estate.

    It is quite possible Adams is not connected to these coins in any way. Mark's post above details the only connection to Adams, and it is not confirmed by official documents.

    How can they have no connection to Adams if she was the one who gave them to Merkin? We’re finding a few things not officially documented.

    I'm saying there is no PROVEN connection to Adams. There's merely one person's statement, which I don't consider strong proof.

    It seems to me that there is more proof of connection to Adams, via Blum’s conversation with Merkin saying they were given to him by Adams, than there is documentation of 1964 SMS coins even existing.

    I'm aware of at least two official documents relating to 1964 "SMS" coinage. Both of those documents tie the coins to the Acting Director, F.W. Tate.

  • PizzamanPizzaman Posts: 212 ✭✭✭

    Whether these "special sets" are real or not what these buyers should be aware of is they're buying on conjecture. There's no evidence of anything, only opinion. You ask me, the presumption should be, these sets don't exist. The burden should be on the proponents. And all they continue to have is hearsay and word of mouth. There are no diagnostics, such as for MPLs, for example. These are simply well-struck coins. I'm not saying they aren't real. Not necessarily. But how does one track one down, through chain-of-custody? Chain-of-custody suddenly indicates a special mint set? That's the diagnostic on these special mint coins?

    @MFeld said:
    The dealer (who is highly expert) was immediately convinced that he was looking at some very distinctive, special coins. Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.

    Thanks for this, Mark, but seriously, that's all they've got? Who in their right mind collects based on that? I've always agreed with RWB, and I wish he hadn't ever been kicked off here. But maybe there's where this thread ought to be, on that board, there. Here, at PCGS, we've been grading these left an right, based on that. Here, we've our money on they're real. I don't know whether NGC certified any of these, as yet. I may be wrong. But I know I've not seen it.

  • jmlanzafjmlanzaf Posts: 31,306 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    I think you could only say the MAY not all have come from Merkin and SOME of them didn't come directly from Adam's.

    Just because Merkin didn't show more than 5 didn't mean he only had 5.

    And if he only had 5 that he got from Adam's, couldn't the others have come from her estate,

  • robecrobec Posts: 6,538 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Because they were supposedly given to Merkin by Adams while she was alive, whereas “estate” is often used to indicate that the person is no longer living. I don’t know if he was asked to give them back. However, based on having met him and what I’ve heard from others about him, I believe that if asked, he would have returned the coins.

    I understand that estate indicates the person is no longer alive. That is why I asked if these were given to him for keeps or to show around and eventually come back to Adams. Where did Adams get them to give? Were they hers to give or property of the US Mint? Quite a windfall of a gift.

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Evidence proves these coins did not come from the Adams estate.

    It is quite possible Adams is not connected to these coins in any way. Mark's post above details the only connection to Adams, and it is not confirmed by official documents.

    How can they have no connection to Adams if she was the one who gave them to Merkin? We’re finding a few things not officially documented.

    I'm saying there is no PROVEN connection to Adams. There's merely one person's statement, which I don't consider strong proof.

    It seems to me that there is more proof of connection to Adams, via Blum’s conversation with Merkin saying they were given to him by Adams, than there is documentation of 1964 SMS coins even existing.

    I'm aware of at least two official documents relating to 1964 "SMS" coinage. Both of those documents tie the coins to the Acting Director, F.W. Tate.

    That’s more documentation than has ever been provided on these message boards in 20 years covering dozens of threads pertaining to these coins. I have no information on F.W. Tate, when he was acting director or what he knew. I couldn’t even locate him from Google. Can you give us a hint how these coins were tied to him.

    For 20 years we’ve heard about these coins originating from the ownership or custodianship of Eva Adams. All of course without official documentation. Now we’re told a different story saying all that information, including what PCGS has written as well as the responses of several other respected members , is wrong. And this new information also has no official documentation as to the chain of custody to either prove or disprove.

    I have no horse in this race. The only 1964 SMS coins I’ve seen are from photos.

  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,756 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @robec said:

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Because they were supposedly given to Merkin by Adams while she was alive, whereas “estate” is often used to indicate that the person is no longer living. I don’t know if he was asked to give them back. However, based on having met him and what I’ve heard from others about him, I believe that if asked, he would have returned the coins.

    I understand that estate indicates the person is no longer alive. That is why I asked if these were given to him for keeps or to show around and eventually come back to Adams. Where did Adams get them to give? Were they hers to give or property of the US Mint? Quite a windfall of a gift.

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Evidence proves these coins did not come from the Adams estate.

    It is quite possible Adams is not connected to these coins in any way. Mark's post above details the only connection to Adams, and it is not confirmed by official documents.

    How can they have no connection to Adams if she was the one who gave them to Merkin? We’re finding a few things not officially documented.

    I'm saying there is no PROVEN connection to Adams. There's merely one person's statement, which I don't consider strong proof.

    It seems to me that there is more proof of connection to Adams, via Blum’s conversation with Merkin saying they were given to him by Adams, than there is documentation of 1964 SMS coins even existing.

    I'm aware of at least two official documents relating to 1964 "SMS" coinage. Both of those documents tie the coins to the Acting Director, F.W. Tate.

    That’s more documentation than has ever been provided on these message boards in 20 years covering dozens of threads pertaining to these coins. I have no information on F.W. Tate, when he was acting director or what he knew. I couldn’t even locate him from Google. Can you give us a hint how these coins were tied to him.

    For 20 years we’ve heard about these coins originating from the ownership or custodianship of Eva Adams. All of course without official documentation. Now we’re told a different story saying all that information, including what PCGS has written as well as the responses of several other respected members , is wrong. And this new information also has no official documentation as to the chain of custody to either prove or disprove.

    I have no horse in this race. The only 1964 SMS coins I’ve seen are from photos.

    Bob, I've finished my research today. I'm having a few people proofread before I take it public, but I'll PM you the draft so you can read through it.

  • robecrobec Posts: 6,538 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Because they were supposedly given to Merkin by Adams while she was alive, whereas “estate” is often used to indicate that the person is no longer living. I don’t know if he was asked to give them back. However, based on having met him and what I’ve heard from others about him, I believe that if asked, he would have returned the coins.

    I understand that estate indicates the person is no longer alive. That is why I asked if these were given to him for keeps or to show around and eventually come back to Adams. Where did Adams get them to give? Were they hers to give or property of the US Mint? Quite a windfall of a gift.

    @FlyingAl said:

    @robec said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    If these were given to Merkin by Adams to show around, why couldn’t they have come from the Adams estate? Were they given to Merkin to keep or given to him to show around?
    From your opening post:

    “ Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.”

    Evidence proves these coins did not come from the Adams estate.

    It is quite possible Adams is not connected to these coins in any way. Mark's post above details the only connection to Adams, and it is not confirmed by official documents.

    How can they have no connection to Adams if she was the one who gave them to Merkin? We’re finding a few things not officially documented.

    I'm saying there is no PROVEN connection to Adams. There's merely one person's statement, which I don't consider strong proof.

    It seems to me that there is more proof of connection to Adams, via Blum’s conversation with Merkin saying they were given to him by Adams, than there is documentation of 1964 SMS coins even existing.

    I'm aware of at least two official documents relating to 1964 "SMS" coinage. Both of those documents tie the coins to the Acting Director, F.W. Tate.

    That’s more documentation than has ever been provided on these message boards in 20 years covering dozens of threads pertaining to these coins. I have no information on F.W. Tate, when he was acting director or what he knew. I couldn’t even locate him from Google. Can you give us a hint how these coins were tied to him.

    For 20 years we’ve heard about these coins originating from the ownership or custodianship of Eva Adams. All of course without official documentation. Now we’re told a different story saying all that information, including what PCGS has written as well as the responses of several other respected members , is wrong. And this new information also has no official documentation as to the chain of custody to either prove or disprove.

    I have no horse in this race. The only 1964 SMS coins I’ve seen are from photos.

    Bob, I've finished my research today. I'm having a few people proofread before I take it public, but I'll PM you the draft so you can read through it.

    That’s very generous of you Alex. I’d love to read it.

  • DCWDCW Posts: 6,887 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This is very exciting @FlyingAl
    Very much looking forward to reading your dissertation

    Dead Cat Waltz Exonumia
    "Coin collecting for outcasts..."

  • MFeldMFeld Posts: 11,730 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @braddick said:
    i recall 20- 25 years or so ago reading the one and only MS69 1964 PCGS Kennedy half used to be in an SMS68 NGC holder.
    Mark, do you recall anything of this nature? Perhaps I have the order in reverse- I just remember thinking it was a highly unusual and attractive coin.
    (This was back in the day when I was seeking out these coins for a PCGS registry.)

    Pat, I don’t specifically recall that. However, I think that while I was at NGC, we graded quite a few of the SMS coins before PCGS graded any of them. And that eventually, most (or almost all) of them were crossed over to PCGS holders. So the particulars of what you recall certainly sound feasible.

    Mark Feld* of Heritage Auctions*Unless otherwise noted, my posts here represent my personal opinions.

  • MFeldMFeld Posts: 11,730 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 11, 2024 12:45PM

    @Pizzaman said:
    Whether these "special sets" are real or not what these buyers should be aware of is they're buying on conjecture. There's no evidence of anything, only opinion. You ask me, the presumption should be, these sets don't exist. The burden should be on the proponents. And all they continue to have is hearsay and word of mouth. There are no diagnostics, such as for MPLs, for example. These are simply well-struck coins. I'm not saying they aren't real. Not necessarily. But how does one track one down, through chain-of-custody? Chain-of-custody suddenly indicates a special mint set? That's the diagnostic on these special mint coins?

    @MFeld said:
    The dealer (who is highly expert) was immediately convinced that he was looking at some very distinctive, special coins. Mr. Merkin told him that Eva Adams, who had been U.S. Mint Director from 1961-1969, had given him the sets and asked him to show them around to some people and ask what they thought of them. It was obvious that Lester Merkin was very proud of them.

    Thanks for this, Mark, but seriously, that's all they've got? Who in their right mind collects based on that? I've always agreed with RWB, and I wish he hadn't ever been kicked off here. But maybe there's where this thread ought to be, on that board, there. Here, at PCGS, we've been grading these left an right, based on that. Here, we've our money on they're real. I don't know whether NGC certified any of these, as yet. I may be wrong. But I know I've not seen it.

    The examples I’ve seen do exhibit diagnostics - extensive and conspicuous die polishing lines, among others. From what I recall, the extent of the die polishing differs from one denomination to another.

    As I mentioned in my opening post, while I was at NGC, we certified a number of 1964 SMS coins from different sets and I think it was before PCGS saw any of them.

    Mark Feld* of Heritage Auctions*Unless otherwise noted, my posts here represent my personal opinions.

  • NicNic Posts: 3,335 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 11, 2024 12:51PM

    @wondercoin said:
    Abductive reasoning supports the “theory” that the coins were indeed specially struck.

    Remember - “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck."

    Just my 2 cents.

    Wondercoin

    "Probably" a duck does not = a duck. Please don't hunt with friends. Have you seen the latter years "special" coins at the Smithsonian? I would love to hear more from those that have. My 2c.

  • MFeldMFeld Posts: 11,730 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @jmlanzaf said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and nee

    @jmlanzaf said:

    @MFeld said:

    @wondercoin said:
    Mark. Thank you for opening this discussion. I read your 8 paragraphs above and need to ask you:

    What new information, if any, did you discover that the “experts” (Heritage, Stacks, top modern collector/dealer experts, etc) did not already know before your conversation? I’m not sure I read anything written by you different from what I already knew about these specially produced coins.

    Wondercoin

    Mitch, I don’t claim to have “discovered” anything. However, if what I was told is accurate, contrary to what I’ve seen stated/claimed, 1) the coins didn’t come from the estate of Eva Adams and 2) they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin, either.

    I think you could only say the MAY not all have come from Merkin and SOME of them didn't come directly from Adam's.

    Just because Merkin didn't show more than 5 didn't mean he only had 5.

    And if he only had 5 that he got from Adam's, couldn't the others have come from her estate,

    I was speaking of the small number of sets that I was told about, not all of the sets which surfaced.
    Additionally, I said “they didn’t all come from the estate of Lester Merkin”, not “they didn’t all come from Merkin.” I make no claims regarding the source of all of them.

    Mark Feld* of Heritage Auctions*Unless otherwise noted, my posts here represent my personal opinions.

  • PhillyJoePhillyJoe Posts: 2,675 ✭✭✭✭

    I spent many a day at the Philadelphia Archives 20 years ago and I have searched everything and anything listed in RG104 that might pertain to Kennedys, 1964 Mint records, dies, internal and external (meaning inter-mint) correspondence. There is nothing pertaining to any special sets being produced in 1964. They would have been made in Philadelphia and sent to Eva Adams in Washington. There was some, but not a lot of clandestine operations back then (accented hair as an example). One coin you can see being tried, but every denomination? Eva adams donated her personal archives to University of Nevada-Reno’s library when she retired. Roger B checked that. Nothing.
    The fact that these surfaced shortly after Ms. Adams’ death fueled the speculation that they were part of her estate but that is probably more coincidence. We really don’t know where these sets may have been from 1964 until the early 90’s.

    The Philadelphia Mint: making coins since 1792. We make money by making money. Now in our 225th year thanks to no competition. image
  • TomBTomB Posts: 20,612 ✭✭✭✭✭

    "Speaking of the early 90’s, I happened to be a grader at NGC from 1991-1998. And while I was there, (edited from “a handful”) several unusual 1964 sets were submitted to us for grading by a well known dealer who’d purchased them out of Stack’s auctions. I think that we at NGC, were the first graders to see the coins. Most, though not all of them looked quite distinctive/specially made. And as a result, if memory serves me correctly, not all of the coins were given special designations. I remember thinking it was a tough call to do that, seeing as how we were examining complete sets. But ultimately, we felt that each coin needed to stand on its own merits."

    Thank you for this interesting post and discussion. I've quoted a small part of it, above, to ask if you think in hindsight the graders and management at NGC did the right thing by labeling some of these coins as SMS. It appears there really wasn't any corroborating evidence or paper trail to prove what they were, yet a new (for the mintage year) designation was created for them. I wonder if that was really the best strategy, after all, you can't unring a bell.

    Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

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

    image
  • EagleEyeEagleEye Posts: 7,676 ✭✭✭✭✭

    FWIW, here's my recollections about the SMS sets:

    Shortly after I started by business in 1992, I was offered five sets by a NJ dealer (not Steve Blum, who I've known since the 1970's) for something like $35,000. They were raw at the time and they were offered as special strikes. I saw they were special, but declined the offer. Looking back, I wish I bought them, but they were untested in the market and I didn't know they would be graded as special.

    Rick Snow, Eagle Eye Rare Coins, Inc.Check out my new web site:
  • TomBTomB Posts: 20,612 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thank you, Mark, for taking the time to respond and to do it so eloquently.

    Thomas Bush Numismatics & Numismatic Photography

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

    image
  • cladkingcladking Posts: 28,237 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @PhillyJoe said:
    I spent many a day at the Philadelphia Archives 20 years ago and I have searched everything and anything listed in RG104 that might pertain to Kennedys, 1964 Mint records, dies, internal and external (meaning inter-mint) correspondence. There is nothing pertaining to any special sets being produced in 1964. They would have been made in Philadelphia and sent to Eva Adams in Washington. There was some, but not a lot of clandestine operations back then (accented hair as an example). One coin you can see being tried, but every denomination? Eva adams donated her personal archives to University of Nevada-Reno’s library when she retired. Roger B checked that. Nothing.
    The fact that these surfaced shortly after Ms. Adams’ death fueled the speculation that they were part of her estate but that is probably more coincidence. We really don’t know where these sets may have been from 1964 until the early 90’s.

    I think this is the elephant in the room people have been missing. Certainly there are lots of special strikes that can be found in mint bags and especially mint sets of many different types but putting together sets of these is a virtual impossibility for any date or mint. They are almost always one offs in my experience.

    The existence of sets simply implies they were made and assembled at the mint so "mint set" or "SMS" is hardly a stretch.

    Tempus fugit.
  • cladkingcladking Posts: 28,237 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 11, 2024 5:36PM

    I was amazed that Stacks sent me their catalog for these sets. I was hardly on their mailing list and have no idea why they'd just happen to send me a catalog of coins for which I seriously considered making offers. If I recall these did not sell well initially so I might have ended up with a set.

    Tempus fugit.
  • MsMorrisineMsMorrisine Posts: 32,039 ✭✭✭✭✭

    zSMS

    Current maintainer of Stone's Master List of Favorite Websites // My BST transactions
  • FrazFraz Posts: 1,549 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks, you guys.

  • ElKevvoElKevvo Posts: 4,046 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This is a good informative thread...thanks!

    K

    ANA LM
  • NewEnglandRaritiesNewEnglandRarities Posts: 1,017 ✭✭✭✭

    Very cool thread! Outside of my normal area of interest but some great debate and information in this thread! Look forward to seeing @FlyingAl paper/research when it’s ready to be seen! Great information everyone!

    New England Rarities...Dealer In Colonial Coinage and Americana
  • WinLoseWinWinLoseWin Posts: 1,462 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I am copying my post to here that was just added to the other 1964 SMS thread started in August 2023.

    My post mostly concerns updating prices realized for the sets when first offered at auction along with a few thoughts and questions. It doesn't answer anything regarding why they exist or where they came from.

    Origins of the 1964 "SMS" Coins

    https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/1094235/origins-of-the-1964-sms-coins/p1

    .
    .
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    After some research, here are the prices realized added for the lots listed in the original post. (of the other thread "Origins of the 1964 "SMS" Coins" linked above)

    While not useful to understanding the origins of these 1964 sets, I find the prices realized helpful to indicating the perception of the sets when first showing up and possible reactions by the market back then to their continued availability at Stack's auctions. The prices show at least some bidders viewed them as very different than regular issues. There seemed to be a general down trend after a strong start in prices realized over time, perhaps indicating concern that more sets might keep on becoming available or a market losing interest in about how special they were.

    They also might indicate clues as to whether their are differences among the sets that were offered. If any people saw all of them they may be able to answer if that last $33.00 set (assuming no mistake on Stack's PR list) was either not from the same dies as the other sets; or that much worse condition from the others; or just slipped through the cracks to sell so cheap.

    5/2/1990 - Lot 1352 - - hammer price of $715.00 for a total of $786.50
    6/19/1991 - Lot 591 - - hammer price listed of $1,000.00 for a total of $1,100.00
    6/23/1992 - Lot 1230 - - Prices Realized shows as WITHDRAWN
    9/10/1992 - Lot 1206 (3 sets) - - hammer price listed of $2,600.00 for a total of $2,860.00
    12/2/1992 - Lot 1345 (missing the Nickel) - - hammer price of $160.00 for a total of $176.00 " (...set was identified to have a 1960 proof nickel with it (missing the nickel). - lilolme"
    1/13/1993 - Lot 693 - - hammer price listed of $1,600.00 for a total of $1,760.00
    3/18/1993 - Lot 2974 - - hammer price of $500.00 for a total of $550.00
    5/5/1993 - Lot 1064 - - hammer price of $480.00 for a total of $528.00
    6/16/1993 - 5 cents, 1 dime, 2 halves - Lot 1232 - - hammer price of $525.00 for a total of $577.50
    9/8/1993 (not 10/13/1993 as labled on NNP) - Lot 635 - - hammer price of $220.00 for a total of $242.00
    1/19/1994 - Lot 526 - - hammer price of $475.00 for a total of $522.50
    3/22/1994 - Lot 956 - - hammer price of $230.00 for a total of $253.00
    5/2/1995 - Lot 430 - - hammer price of $30.00 for a total of $33.00 (assuming no mistake on Stack's PR list)

    = = = = = = =

    As far as their origins:

    Is there any way to rule in or out whether these sets may have had to do with presenting the newly issued Kennedy Half early in the year as opposed to a test for special striking to replace Proof and regular Mint Sets? Are there any other possible reasons they could have been struck for aside from an SMS test?

    The typically higher than normal coin preservation and die polish for each denomination would seem to indicate a special situation of hand picking these 1964 sets right after striking rather than picking random examples. So there seems to be a plan and purpose rather than just a sample from regular production.

    It may be helpful if someone has been able to compare the recently discovered (around 2013 - see link to thread) Smithsonian 'special strikes" from the 1950's to 1970's to see if the 1964's located there are from the same or different dies as these 1964 sets. Has anyone done this or if not, does anyone have access to both for comparison? I'm guessing they are different unless the occasion for additional 1964 sets coincided with producing issues for the Smithsonian. It doesn't seem any other year sets exist of early strikes outside of the Smithsonian for the date range.
    .
    .
    Coin World - 8/5/2013 First Strikes in the Smithsonian National Numismatic Collection!

    https://forums.collectors.com/discussion/894254/coin-world-8-5-2013-first-strikes-in-the-smithsonian-national-numismatic-collection
    .
    .

    Guessing that the future article by FlyingAl will clarify or fully answer these issues regarding the 1964 sets.

    "To Be Esteemed Be Useful" - 1792 Birch Cent --- "I personally think we developed language because of our deep need to complain." - Lily Tomlin

  • FlyingAlFlyingAl Posts: 2,756 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @WinLoseWin

    I just deleted that old post of mine. At the time, the research backed those conclusions. However, subsequent research made those conclusions mostly invalid. That’s how these things go at times - you make hypotheses, get proven wrong, adjust, and keep repeating.

    If you would like to read a draft of the research I have, let me know.

  • johnny010johnny010 Posts: 1,045 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @EagleEye said:
    FWIW, here's my recollections about the SMS sets:

    Shortly after I started by business in 1992, I was offered five sets by a NJ dealer (not Steve Blum, who I've known since the 1970's) for something like $35,000. They were raw at the time and they were offered as special strikes. I saw they were special, but declined the offer. Looking back, I wish I bought them, but they were untested in the market and I didn't know they would be graded as special.

    Was there a story explaining how said dealer acquired them?

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