Home U.S. Coin Forum

Fifth REVIVAL! Pics on Page 4 .There were five of us in two cabs rushing to the SMITHSONIAN!!!

saintgurusaintguru Posts: 7,724 ✭✭✭
edited December 29, 2017 6:59AM in U.S. Coin Forum
I loved this forum, it was a place to share, to comment, to philosophize, to hold a few VERY epic battles and to spread good cheer. And I had well over 100 "forum friends" who I personally befriended with over the years. So here...MEMORY LANE.

The pics that are no longer here are reposted near the end.
We were 10 minutes late to meet Jeff Garrett who must not have realized that CNBC was screaming about how the market would be down 1200 points once the market opened and one of us was a little late. In one cab was myself, Steve Duckor and Ray Moore (a high end Saint collector). In the other cab was John Albanese and Bob B., a lover of collectables and a very successful hedge fund manager but who cares about business because he's got a spectacular collection of superb 19th century rare coins. Finally after looking for THE entrance under construction, (among maybe SIX?) we found the right entrance under construction and there we were. We walked about 100 feet in the underground garage, signed our names in the visitor's book by the guard station and were greeted by two Smithsonian employees who proceeded to walk us through a short maze of halls to the coin vault. We got in an elevator and coincidentally there was the Director of the Smithsonian, looking very Senatorial and welcomed us to the place.

Through a few more doors and there we were...room one, the Library of the greatest assemblage of coins in the world. Jeff walked in with a black box...not just any black box, but an exquisitely made coin box with six drawers with 15 coin compartments each lined with black velvet. The hardware was all polished brass and we were informed that this was how the Lilly (pharmaceutical fame)collection arrived at the Smithsonian years ago to settle a tax obligation. Hundreds of these boxes!! It is to this day one of the quitest pedigrees among the greatest of the greats and what we were about to see from one tiny portion of it was going to kick our butts back in our seats so hard we needed seat belts.

This was the first phase of the viewing of the best of the Smithsonian's coins and the 20th Century Gold Club with John and Jeff were about to see marvels. The room was far from optimum for viewing coins. There were big institutional flourescent lights in the 12' ceilinged rooms, somewhat similar to a well light factory. And then the box opened.......

(Allow me to write a disclaimer. With the described lighting and an iPhone being the only camera in the room you'll have to let your imagination fill in what these looked like where the pictures fall short. It's almost impossible to get good shots with a phone in one hand, coins in another and no macro anything...so it's an "impressionist"trip....ok...)

The first coin out was the UHR Double Eagle on the thick $10 planchet...image


...oh....THERE ARE TWO OF THEM. THE ONLY TWO!! Grade? I looked at John A, and he just said "they're perfect". That's MS69 or MS70 but the hell with technicalities, They were MS100's.


Mindblowing. What more could we want? Well, there was a lot more. Another Ultra High Relief came out of the box, the "regular" size and this one was as nice as the MS69 that sold earlier this year. Not as cute as the "mini's" but what a monster.image

OK...so we're seeing some real killer Saints (we ARE 20th C. gold, so no backtalk). There's a supremely rare 1921 that is a wonderful MS65 by consensus...there's a 1926-D MS67, a 1927-S MS66++...better of equal than the finest graded.

Oh...here come three together. I hold them all only to realize that they are all 1927-D's!!! Grades...one MS66/2 MS65's. Again, none are TPG graded, merely in protective NGC type holders but there's no debate among us.



I spy a 1930-S, one of the rarest dates of the entire series. It's almost an MS68!! The highest graded coin is a MS66. It's got to be worth somewhere in the $750K range. This one is so thick with frost and velvety luminescence that it's among the best Saints I've ever seen. The picture shows nothing but it's better than no pic at all. image


Finally, the political piece de resistance! The 1933 Saint, definately a MS65. Looks just like a legal coin but not this one. And it's just another P date. image


We saw the finest $5 1909-O that exists, I'll take Steve Duckor and David Akers word...both graded it a MS65+, Akers insinuated in 1987 that it's probably a 66, something very unusual for David. he's TOUGH! Jeff pulled out the finest $10 Indian in any date that anyone had ever seen! Again, "perfect" was the only word that coud be used. It was ever bit of a MS69.

We went through about 30 coins in that sitting. Now it's time to go in the vault. We walked through an aluminum door with metal slats that hardly said "vault" nor did the room. It looked like a big office supply room. There were rows and rows of 4' metal cabinets with long 1/2" flat drawers and two 6' safes, surrounded by clutter to the ceiling all around the walls of the room. Now Jeff did his thing. The best of the best is in the safes. We started passing around coins and I have to tell you that after a certain amount of viewing at this speed it's so overwhelmiing that it becomes a blur. I saw more classic "funny head" $2.5 and $5 gold pieces that were one of a kind it was daunting. The 1822 $5 was simply awesome. One thing we noticed was the the really high end UNC. coins looked as if they were modern in that they still were frosted, bright gold and almost flawless. I had never seen anything like these in any auction. The proofs were easily the highlight of the old gold. Every one was a tiny mirror and had they not been worth six to seven figures each one would think them to be common. image And I'm sure a few were seven figure coins, certainly the $5 1822.

So now lets' see something special. The BIG GUYS!! There were TWO 1877 $50 gold coins that had to be 3" across and also magnificent! Like BIG mirrors. Now that's money! image


Holding this was incredible. And next was perhaps the crown jewel of all the coins in the collection...ALL THE COINS...



I only wish I could have gotten a better picture but it took 5 shots to get one this crappy! I have NO IDEA what the vertical line is on the picture. It was not on the coin. The light sucked, the gold was so flashy and let's face it, you can't hold it still enough but this was it. Someone said it's gotta be worth $20 million. No one even blinked. Maybe more?? To think that this coin symbolized the incredible rush of humanity from all over the world to settle in California looking for riches and eventually becoming the main cause for the huge population flow to the West. And they even named a football team after it.. image The gold rush of 1849 and there's only one coin to announce it.

So we see more stuff, and it's all going so fast and we see what's in the vault of the 100 Greatest Coins that Jeff and Ron Guth came up with for their book. So muuch stuff and they're passing hands so fast and the Smithsonian people are making interesting comments and I have to tell you that it became almost a blur by now.

But I had to get my hands on the $1 1804!! The fabled "mislabled" ultra-rarity that was minted thirty years later, one was given to the King Of Siam, (Yul Brynner?) yet is still amont the top of the top in coin lore. What a strange coin provenance.

There were THREE and they were amazing. Everyone of them had this incredible toning...very soft and seemingly coming from deep within the coin with subtle pastel colors, enough to create the same kind of Impressionist feel that a Monet does. Just lovely damn coins...and I did the best I could with the one Type I specimen. It was just impossible with those huge bare fluorescent lights above the whole room.


Well, time was running out and one of our guides who I had been chatting with says let me show you a piece of paper. Hell, it's the Smithsonian so I'll look at whatever he has. He goes into a drawer and puts this crisp baby in my palm. image



So that was it...and there's an interesting perspective that I walked away wih that I think many of you will appreciate it of you think about it.

I think this thought will make us better and happier collectors. We all tend to look at our coins and mark them down from a point of perfection. This is absolutely wrong. I've seen most of the finest known examples of every series of coins and many of the finest known coins of the rarest of the rarities; the amazing truth is that none of them even approaches perfect!! There are NO MS70 coins in the classics so if you think your MS65 or 66 could be much nicer you're wrong! So chill out when you see hits on your best coin...because I've seen the best of the best and there's hits and stuff on all of them except a very small handful of amazing rarities. Old proof gold, the best and highest grades have marks. 18th C silver has marks rub and hairline scratches. DO NOT GRADE YOUR COINS FROM AN MS70 DOWN! It doesn't work that way.

I have a coin that I sometimes felt paranoid about as an MS65. I saw the Smithsonian specimen est. MS66 and realized that it's a 66 like the two graded by PCGS and mine is very much a 65; in fact it's noticeably nicer than their MS65!! Now I always loved this coin, especially because they are such rough coins in MS64 or lower, and virtually non-existant in MS65. The POPs say 5 but no one has seen more than 3 and one is grossly AT'd!! And seeing the best of the best convinced me that mine is indeed one of the finest of the top 4 or 5 that exist! That's a hell of a different perspective. I learned about perspective and we ALL do the same thing with our coins.

A great experience, humbling yet enriching beyond all these words! I'll never forget it. Less than 40 people have done so!image

PS.. Many, many thanks To Jeff Garrett for arranging this for the 20th Century Gold Club. He is an extraodinary knowledgeable man and a fun guy to be around! image

And regrets to those few members who had to cancel or couldn't make the trip.



  • mkman123mkman123 Posts: 6,849 ✭✭✭✭
    wow! Thanks for sharing
    Successful Buying and Selling transactions with:

    Many members on this forum that now it cannot fit in my signature. Please ask for entire list.
  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Great report Jay.. thanks for sharing... Cheers, RickO
  • mgoodm3mgoodm3 Posts: 17,497 ✭✭✭
    You should have brought somebody who can take pictures with you....image

    Quite the show and tell.
    coinimaging.com/my photography articles Check out the new macro lens testing section
  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,260 ✭✭✭✭✭

    How was my old friend the Linderman 1804 Class 3 Dollar? I remember fondling it (by the edge!) in Ed Rochette's office while an FBI agent took our statements regarding its recovery. When I was fully sated I just slipped it into a polybag and then a fliip and stuck it in my shirt pocket.

    A few minutes later the agent turned towards me and noticed that the coin was no longer in plain sight and absolutely freaked! I just took it out of my pocket and handed it to him.

    He was stunned, and said "You'd put a coin like that in your pocket???" and I said "Of course. Safest place in the room. I know where it is." Until I got a receipt from him, it was MY responsibility.

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • cmerlo1cmerlo1 Posts: 7,855 ✭✭✭✭✭
    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.
  • saintgurusaintguru Posts: 7,724 ✭✭✭
    All the 1804's were amazing. Simply incredible soft colors and magnificently struck.
  • pmacpmac Posts: 3,189 ✭✭✭
    Speaking for myself (and probably many more of us), I was quite jeolous when you told us about this field trip. I commend your commentary and sharing of your visit. It does put a perspective on the coins that we own, but you still must be very proud of your collecting accomplishments. It must be a nice feeling being able to study the history that you have in your posession, knowing that it will be shared by so many others after they are passed on. Thanks for the 'tour' of our coin vault at the Smithsonian.
  • saintgurusaintguru Posts: 7,724 ✭✭✭
    Thank you.

    I never want to seem like I'm rubbing anyone's nose in opportunity and I saw this as an experience to share.

    Do you have ANY IDEA how many typos I made and went back and edited and there's probably like still 10 left? This took a long time...for YOU! image
  • CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,260 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Sure would like to fondle the Class 2 to see the understrike!
    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
  • saintgurusaintguru Posts: 7,724 ✭✭✭

    << <i>Sure would like to fondle the Class 2 to see the understrike! >>

    You're getting wierder, Tom. image
  • RWBRWB Posts: 8,082
    Most of the silver and gold specimens (except proofs) from 1905-1921 were pulled direct from Philadelphia Mint presses and from annual pyx coins of the branch mints by T. Louis Comparette. He was curator of the mint collection from 1905 to his death in June 1922. He had a good eye for quality and also supplied coins to the Mitchelson collection/Connecticut State Library and several other institutions.

    I recall that some of the folks saintguru mentions own coins pedigreed to the George Godard Collection which also originated with Comparette.

    All of Comparette’s records were reported destroyed, so we have only tiny bits of what must have been an extensive catalog of coins and “insider” acquisitions.

    (Wish I could have been there instead of a boring 3 hr meeting.)
  • Extremely interesting. Great report and probably the closest I'll ever
    get to experiencing those coins.
    molon labe
  • sumduncesumdunce Posts: 1,247 ✭✭✭✭
    Speachless... WOW!

  • Coin FinderCoin Finder Posts: 6,882 ✭✭✭✭✭
    freaking great man, thanks for the pics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I am not responsible for the version of me you created inside your head...
  • saintgurusaintguru Posts: 7,724 ✭✭✭
    Seeing so much in less than 3 hours is akin to eating 53 hot dogs at in 12 minutes at Nathan's on the 4th of July. image

    It would take a month to do it well.
  • CoinRaritiesOnlineCoinRaritiesOnline Posts: 3,630 ✭✭✭✭
    Great report, SG!

    It is good to know that the 1804 $1's are retoning. When I saw them on display when I was a kid, they were both (they had 2 on display at the time) white as ghosts!

    I remember buying a postcard at the Smithsonian gift shop that had both 1804 dollars -- again, they were as white as snow in that color photo.

    Time heals all wounds...
  • pennyanniepennyannie Posts: 3,929 ✭✭✭
    That was just plain COOL!!!!!!!
    NGC registry V-Nickel proof #6!!!!
    working on proof shield nickels # 8 with a bullet!!!!

    RIP "BEAR"
  • krankykranky Posts: 8,709 ✭✭✭
    Jay, thanks for taking time to get the photos and write up the play-by-play of your visit. I really appreciate it. Amazing coins, no doubt about it.

    New collectors, please educate yourself before spending money on coins; there are people who believe that using numismatic knowledge to rip the naïve is what this hobby is all about.

  • saintgurusaintguru Posts: 7,724 ✭✭✭

    << <i>Great report, SG!

    It is good to know that the 1804 $1's are retoning. When I saw them on display when I was a kid, they were both (they had 2 on display at the time) white as ghosts!

    I remember buying a postcard at the Smithsonian gift shop that had both 1804 dollars -- again, they were as white as snow in that color photo.

    Time heals all wounds... >>

    The toning was simply Zen-like.

    I don't know what goes on with silver but whatever is going on with these is special. The reverses were hypnotic. I would actually say that they were among the prettiest dollars I've seen. Is there magic in them orbs?

  • PCcoinsPCcoins Posts: 3,345 ✭✭✭
    I would love to have the chance to hold through babies! Truly amazing, glad you showed them to us image
    "It is what it is."
  • LindeDadLindeDad Posts: 18,766 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thanks for the report.
  • Thanks for taking the time to take the pics and write up the post and share what must have been a once in a lifetime opportunity with the rest of us. Simply incredible!
    "College men from LSU- went in dumb, come out dumb too..."
    -Randy Newmanimage
  • ColonialCoinUnionColonialCoinUnion Posts: 10,087 ✭✭✭
    Great stuff St.
  • This post is great, thanks for sharing! I can't believe that you were able to get pics! So how are you gonna trump this? May I suggest a trip to Fort Knox ( I volunteer to be camera-man image ) ? image
    imageQuid pro quo. Yes or no?
  • lcoopielcoopie Posts: 8,563 ✭✭✭✭
    This will be the ultimate post in CU message board history.

    thanks Jay

    can you estimate, and I know it's just a game,
    the total value of the coins you saw?

    PS were any stickers applied during the visit? image
    LCoopie = Les

  • << <i>You should have brought somebody who can take pictures with you....image

    Quite the show and tell. >>

    image on both countsimage

  • Simply Amazing. Thanks so much for taking the time to write up your visit and post the pics.


  • BroadstruckBroadstruck Posts: 30,497 ✭✭✭✭✭
    saintguru this could likely in my book at least be the best POTY! imageimage
    To Err Is Human.... To Collect Err's Is Just Too Much Darn Tootin Fun!
  • jmski52jmski52 Posts: 22,116 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thank you for the report. If you can think of more, now is the time to document it further. I'd want to keep this memory as vivid as possible.image
    Q: Are You Printing Money? Bernanke: Not Literally

    I knew it would happen.
  • Type2Type2 Posts: 13,985 ✭✭✭✭✭
    A true Cool-ector thanks for posting so all can injoy. imageimage

    Hoard the keys.
  • mrearlygoldmrearlygold Posts: 17,856 ✭✭✭
  • saintgurusaintguru Posts: 7,724 ✭✭✭
    We probably saw well over $300 million in coins. We probably didn't see another $300 million! How do you price some of these? the Saints alone would have to approach $40 mil. and that was a tiny, tiny piece.

    But the history, man....the history...That's what made you feel so blown away...seeing coins 200 years old that have never aged! So eeing coins that are one of a kind, coins with amazing historic significance like the 1792 half disme and the 1849 $20. The amazing abundance of gem 1815-1834 gold. And like I said, the hundreds of thousands of coins that we didn't see! It's really too much to comprehend at the moment when you're seeing so much stuff in a short three hours.
  • bestmrbestmr Posts: 1,760 ✭✭✭
    That was SOOOOO cool! image Thanks for sharing. I found myself yelling out COOL and SWEET when I saw the 1933 saint and that monster $50.

    Thanks again for sharing!!!!
    Positive dealing with oilstates2003, rkfish, Scrapman1077, Weather11am, Guitarwes, Twosides2acoin, Hendrixkat, Sevensteps, CarlWohlforth, DLBack, zug, wildjag, tetradrachm, tydye, NotSure, AgBlox, Seemyauction, Stopmotion, Zubie, Fivecents, Musky1011, Bstat1020, Gsa1fan several times, and Mkman123 LOTS of times
  • BroadstruckBroadstruck Posts: 30,497 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Pictures are great too as I know my hands would have been shaking! image
    To Err Is Human.... To Collect Err's Is Just Too Much Darn Tootin Fun!
  • CoinosaurusCoinosaurus Posts: 9,606 ✭✭✭✭✭
    There were two 1933s that went into the Smithsonian. Did you see both of them or just one? Great report!!!!!
  • robkoolrobkool Posts: 5,934 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Intresting... That 1849 is the "REAL DEAL" of coins...
  • UltraHighReliefUltraHighRelief Posts: 2,277 ✭✭✭✭✭
    did u see most of the coins that they had?

    how can someone do that kind of tour?

    Most of those coins I saw - they were in the castle circa december 2006. So they are not there anymore, and are in storage?
  • saintgurusaintguru Posts: 7,724 ✭✭✭
    It's a matter of connections, I'm sorry to say. They told us that maybe 3 dozen have seen what we did. We had access to EVERYTHING! But Jeff Garrett had been working on cataloguing them for a few years and segregated the best of the best over the years. That's how he was able to bring out the selected box of 20th C. gold.

    There are hundreds of thousands of coins. those cabinets with the skinny drawers....perhaos 50-75 coins per drawer and 40 drawers per cabinet!

    I wish I rememeber more than I do. image

    It's so much so fast. It was fantastic sitting next to John Albanese when looking at the Saints. His eye is soooo good. When we looked at the 19th C. stuff he was talking to Beckwitt more because they are friends and that's Bob's interests more. Duckor was in awe too.

    The mini UHRs were the hit in show one!!
  • illini420illini420 Posts: 11,466 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thanks for sharing, very cool.

    It is just a real shame though that all of these rare coins (owned by all of us) are stashed away in boxes and metal cabinets... would be nice if some funds were allocated or some donors made some endowments for a U.S. coin museum.
  • fcfc Posts: 12,788 ✭✭✭
    awesome post.
  • saintgurusaintguru Posts: 7,724 ✭✭✭
    Oh...if ever the greatest coin quote of all time was appropriate it would have been there.

    "Coins are the metallic footsteps of the history of nations."
    --William H. Woodin, Secretary Of the Treasury 1933 and Rennaisance Man!
  • YaHaYaHa Posts: 4,220
    Great report SG. As i'm not a person to steal. Next time bring David Copper or David Blaine with you and have them switch one of those beauties for ya. I bet you those slabs have somekind of detectable chip inside so no one can steal them.

    Awesome coins. I got a willy looking at those $20 lib proofs.image
  • TootawlTootawl Posts: 5,877 ✭✭✭
    It's official...

    PCGS Currency: HOF 2013, Best Low Ball Set 2009-2014, 2016, 2018. Appreciation Award 2015, Best Showcase 2018, Numerous others.
  • messydeskmessydesk Posts: 19,467 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Wow, wow, wow! Sounds like you were in need of changing your drawers afterwards. That was a real treat to read. I followed along in my Smithsonian U.S. Gold Coins book. Next time, TAKE ALONG A PHOTOGRAPHER!
  • MacCrimmonMacCrimmon Posts: 7,049 ✭✭✭

    Mucho gracias, Senor Sainty.....
  • UltraHighReliefUltraHighRelief Posts: 2,277 ✭✭✭✭✭
    now we know a way to reduce the national debt! image
  • GoldbullyGoldbully Posts: 16,719 ✭✭✭✭✭

    << <i>Oh...if ever the greatest coin quote of all time was appropriate it would have been there.

    "Coins are the metallic footsteps of the history of nations."
    --William H. Woodin, Secretary Of the Treasury 1933 and Rennaisance Man! >>

    Love that quote, and the great report and pics, Oh great Sainty!!!!!!

    Thanks for sharing with us mere mortals!!! image

  • MesquiteMesquite Posts: 4,075 ✭✭✭
    Wow, what a treat! You have had a unique opportunity Jay. Thanks for sharing.
    There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.
    –John Adams, 1826
  • 19Lyds19Lyds Posts: 26,469 ✭✭✭✭
    Thanks Jay! What a great way to spend the day!

    I'm surprised you can actually do anything after holding 3 27-D's at one time in one hand!
    I decided to change calling the bathroom the John and renamed it the Jim. I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.

    The name is LEE!

Leave a Comment

BoldItalicStrikethroughOrdered listUnordered list
Align leftAlign centerAlign rightToggle HTML viewToggle full pageToggle lights
Drop image/file