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Rarest Silver Dollar Discovered in Box (1866 No Motto dollar)

America's Rarest Silver Dollar, Estimated to Be Worth $1 Million, Discovered in Box in Maine
The Associated Press
[for educational and discussion purposes only]

PORTLAND, Maine March 2 — America's rarest silver dollar and possibly its most famous stolen coin was discovered in a box with filled with miscellaneous coins by a Maine librarian who wasn't even a collector. The coin, thought to be one of only two 1866 silver dollars minted without the inscription "In God We Trust," is estimated to be worth at least $1 million.


The "No Motto Dollar" was among thousands of coins taken during an armed robbery at the Willis du Pont residence in Coconut Grove, Fla., in October 1967. Most of the best-known coins taken in the unsolved heist have been recovered, leaving the 1866 coin as the most famous still at large.

Q. David Bowers, a coin dealer and researcher who has written more than 40 books on coins, said if you held out the coin and asked if anybody would pay $1 million for it, "you'd have a stampede of people waving checks."

"This is by far the rarest variety of any of the silver dollars," said Bowers, who is numismatic director at American Numismatic Rarities in Wolfeboro, N.H. "One thing about the 1866 is it's so rare that it hasn't had a chance to appear at auction very much, so it hasn't got much publicity."

The whereabouts of the coin have been unclear since it was stolen nearly 37 years ago.

But it recently surfaced after American Numismatic Rarities, a coin auction company, received a call from a Maine man who said he thought he had the coin. John Kraljevich, the company's director of numismatic research who took the call, was disbelieving at first but became convinced as the man provided more details.

Kraljevich and a colleague last week met the man at a motel in Augusta, Maine, where the coin was turned over in the motel bar.

He would identify the man only as a librarian who had moved to Maine from California; they met in Augusta because it was convenient.

Kraljevich said the man told him that an eccentric friend of his in California who had gone broke gave him the box of coins the others having no exceptional value as collateral for a loan.

The librarian apparently had little inkling of what was in his possession until he saw a notice for an auction for the other 1866 "No Motto" dollar. The other silver dollar was put up for auction last year, but did not sell when it failed to reach the minimum asking price set by the seller.

When the librarian gave the coin to Kraljevich, it was like turning over a lost winning lottery ticket to its rightful owner.

Kraljevich said the man had become excited as he researched the coin and found out its true history and value. But the man could not keep the coin because it is stolen property.

"Then here it was gone from his life, and he has nothing more to do with it," he said.

Harold Gray, a Palm Beach, Fla., attorney for Willis du Pont, said the coin will go to the American Numismatic Association museum in Colorado Springs, Colo., after it is authenticated.

There, it will join the 1866 "No Motto" quarter and 50-cent piece only one of each was minted that were also stolen in the 1967 robbery and later recovered.

Gray said du Pont follows up every lead for the stolen coins, which have surfaced the world over.

"He was elated," Gray said. "Hope springs eternal, does it not?"


Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Rarest Silver Dollar Discovered in Box

Comments

  • tradedollarnuttradedollarnut Posts: 19,992 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Q. David Bowers, a coin dealer and researcher who has written more than 40 books on coins, said if you held out the coin and asked if anybody would pay $1 million for it, "you'd have a stampede of people waving checks."

    Guess that's easy to say when you're not the one writing the check! image

    For comparison purposes, the 1851-O dollar, which to me is pretty cool and far more desirable as an ancillory to the series, sold for $250k or so recently. But I guess a little poetic license is fine and dandy.



    Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

    Hmmmmm.
  • Conder101Conder101 Posts: 10,639


    << <i>Q. David Bowers, a coin dealer and researcher who has written more than 40 books on coins, said if you held out the coin and asked if anybody would pay $1 million for it, "you'd have a stampede of people waving checks." >>


    Where were they a few months back when the other one was sold? If I remember correctly that one didn't do nearly as well as they hoped it would.





    << <i>Kraljevich said the man told him that an eccentric friend of his in California who had gone broke gave him the box of coins the others having no exceptional value as collateral for a loan. >>


    This fits, the other two pieces also turned up in California sold over the counter in boxes with a bunch of other worn coins of little value. Considering the pittance that he received for the quarter and half selling them to dealers, he probably got more money using them for collateral for the "loan".
  • CoinosaurusCoinosaurus Posts: 9,512 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The Chicago Tribune reported that the coin was worth $6M. Just goes to show you can't believe everything you read in the paper. And it makes you wonder what they are messing up when you read about topics you aren't knowledgable about.
  • tradedollarnuttradedollarnut Posts: 19,992 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Actually, I have no right to comment on the value of the coin - just because it's not my cup of tea doesn't mean there aren't other serious collectors out there for it. It's a fantastic rarity, the finest of only two known. Even as a pattern it has immense value. Kudos to the DuPonts for donating it to the ANA.
  • SunnywoodSunnywood Posts: 2,720
    While it is really cool that this coin showed up in a junk box (very similarly to the mysterious appearances of the 1866 No Motto quarter and half from the same DuPont set), the record should be set straight about this coin.

    When ANR offered the other one not too long ago, I wrote extensively about the 1866 No Motto coins on these Boards (or was it across the street?). To summarize briefly, this coin is NOT a legitimate regular issue proof. It is a backdated fantasy piece. There were two such 1866 No Motto quarter/half/dollar sets struck as "delicacies" for sale to preferred Mint clients. Similarly, there were seven 1865 With Motto sets struck. There were also 1863- and 1864-dated sets produced. All are believed to have been produced in the 1867-1868 time frame.

    What is outrageous is the manner in which the 1866 No Motto has been inserted into everything from the Redbook to the PCGS numbering system, (in my opinion) as a result of a long lobbying campaign by the owners of the other specimen. Fact is, it is a PATTERN, and not even a "legitimate" one at that. There are many patterns that have known pops of 1 or 2 coins. They aren't all million dollar rarities. Most are not. The coin has become notorious and interesting, but the hype is irritating, and the issue is NOT legitimate. It should NOT NOT NOT be included in the regular issue series of proof seated dollars. Of course, many of the other issues dated prior to 1858 were also backdated restrikes, but at least they were in the adopted design.

    Of course, I have railed against OTHER illegitimate issues, which include the 1804 dollars, the 1885 trade dollars, the 1867 Rays Proof nickels, the unique 1870-S rarities, the 1894-S dimes and the 1913 Liberty nickels. However, the illegitimate status of these coins (none was a regular issue) does not seem to matter to those who would acquire a trophy.

    Best,
    Sunnywood
  • CoinosaurusCoinosaurus Posts: 9,512 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Sunnywood-

    A lot of what you say makes sense, which is why the Red Book will probably never delete the 1866 entry. Once it gets in there it takes heaven and earth to get it out, I think.
  • tradedollarnuttradedollarnut Posts: 19,992 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I happen to think the old time contrived rarities are good for numismatics as a whole. Even if these two coins are fantasy restrikes [or more appropriately, novodels], they aren't too much different that the 1851-53 proof dollars - which were struck in later years due to collector demand. And those are accepted as part of the regular proof series.
  • shirohniichanshirohniichan Posts: 6,043 ✭✭✭
    Of course, I have railed against OTHER illegitimate issues, which include the 1804 dollars, the 1885 trade dollars, the 1867 Rays Proof nickels, the unique 1870-S rarities, the 1894-S dimes and the 1913 Liberty nickels. However, the illegitimate status of these coins (none was a regular issue) does not seem to matter to those who would acquire a trophy.

    Was the 1870-S half dime an illegitimate issue? I was under the impression that it was an assay piece.
    image
    Obscurum per obscurius
  • tradedollarnuttradedollarnut Posts: 19,992 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Shiro: that's the problem with railing against "illegitimacy" when we don't 100% know the origins of some of these coins. An 1894-S dime [or more than one] was also sent to the Assay Commission.
  • Conder101Conder101 Posts: 10,639
    The 1870-S half dime is probably an illegitimite issue. There is no official record of any of them having been struck. The closest anything comes is a contemporary report that a complete set of all denominations of 1870-S coins were placed in the mint cornerstone. So an example or two may have been struck for the cornerstone. (According to mint records there were no half dimes, quarters, silver dollars, or three dollar gold pieces struck. To date the only denomination of 1870-S not known to exist is the 1870-S quarter.) They probably struck just one or two pieces each of those issues not struck for circulation that year. The surplus coins were most likely supposed to have been destroyed.

    The 1894-S dimes on the other hand do appear in the official mint reports.
  • Dennis88Dennis88 Posts: 5,830 ✭✭✭
  • baccarudabaccaruda Posts: 3,278 ✭✭
    Q. David Bowers, a coin dealer and researcher who has written more than 40 books on coins, said if you held out the coin and asked if anybody would pay $1 million for it, "you'd have a stampede of people waving checks."

    Yeah, in the same way the "average" collector buys $1,000 coins.
    1 Tassa-slap
    2 Cam-Slams!
    1 Russ POTD!
  • Whatever happened to finders keepers?
  • RussRuss Posts: 49,420 ✭✭✭


    << <i>Where were they a few months back when the other one was sold? If I remember correctly that one didn't do nearly as well as they hoped it would. >>



    Here is the auction. It shows a closing price of $600K, but is that really a sale or the reserve?

    Edit: That $600K is actually the opening. Shows no closing, so it looks like it was a no sale?

    Russ, NCNE
  • tradedollarnuttradedollarnut Posts: 19,992 ✭✭✭✭✭
    The coin was withdrawn from the sale [or the reserve was not met]. I know it did not sell.

    Finders keepers doesn't apply to stolen property.
  • tradedollarnuttradedollarnut Posts: 19,992 ✭✭✭✭✭
    ttt, since other threads keep appearing.
  • Conder101Conder101 Posts: 10,639
    That's right, the other one opened at 600K and couldn't get a single bid. So what makes Bowers think there would be a stampede of people waving million dollar plus checks for this one?
  • tradedollarnuttradedollarnut Posts: 19,992 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Well, the other one was a PF62 [?] and this one is a gem and it has the lost and recovered story to go with the condition.

    It's a coin that has a curious place in numismatic history and could very well be worth that amount to the right buyer. But I agree that there wouldn't be a stampede.
  • shirohniichanshirohniichan Posts: 6,043 ✭✭✭
    The 1894-S dimes on the other hand do appear in the official mint reports.

    As do 1873-S SL dollars. image
    image
    Obscurum per obscurius

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