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Welcome to the Tarnished Truth. YOUR newsletter. With the introduction of the Euro it makes one wonder what new and unusual forms of money our children, and their children will see and use when they reach our age. Will there eventually be but one currency for the entire world ? Will there be no actual physical currency at all, just a fleeing of bits and bytes from one place to another and your wealth is adjusted up or down accordingly. Will each nation hang onto its individual national pride and presence in the face of economic pressures to be one with the rest of the world?
On a shorter term outlook for the U.S. will we finally drift away from the dead Presidents syndrome, maybe discard the cent and maybe even the five-cent piece? Will there be new coins in our pockets, two-dollar coins, five-dollar coins, and maybe even ten-dollar coins? Could the hobby survive if there were not a current coinage to interest new people in the hobby? This generation will probably not see or have to face any of these scenarios, but you just never know .
Ray D Larson
1941 Hong Kong Cent
by Rod Sell
READ it here
I am a 1909 VDB Lincoln cent. I traveled the country for many years in useful commerce, until about 1960 when I met Howard Spindel in Malverne, New York. Howard was a young lad, almost eight years of age, having been born at the end of 1952. I remember the excitement with which Howard first looked at me - how he held his breath as he turned me over not daring to hope that I bore the elusive VDB. And how excited he got upon spotting those initials! Later, I learned from other coins in Howard's collection how his father would bring home rolls of coins for him to search in hopes of locating those pieces that would fill the holes in his blue Whitman folders. I was a coin that Howard had sought for some time, and I was his first exciting circulation find. All of the other coins were circulation finds too - cents, nickels, dimes, and quarters. The half dollars were too expensive to keep. There were Indian Head Cents, Liberty and Buffalo nickels in circulation, not to mention circulating silver including an occasional Standing Liberty quarter.
I watched Howard grow up and develop interests other than coins. In the third grade he started playing trombone. He was chosen for the instrument because he was one of only two or three third graders with arms that were long enough. In 1962 I was packed up with the rest of Howard's possessions and moved from New York to San Francisco. His parents drove Howard and his younger brother cross-country, and he saw Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone Park. He also managed to fall into the Mississippi River, where he learned why it's called the Big Muddy.In San Francisco, Howard finished elementary school and attended A.P Giannini Junior High and Abraham Lincoln High School. He continued his interest in trombone, and became quite proficient. He played softball and basketball. He had tropical fish. And yes, he continued to fill in his Whitman folders.
In 1971, I was packed into Howard's closet along with the rest of the coin collection. The fish were given away. Howard went off to school at that hotbed of radicalism, the University of California at Berkeley. He visited home often enough so that I got to hear (through the closet door!) about his adventures at Berkeley. He lived in Bowles Hall, a dormitory with rich traditions and questionable standards. He became acquainted with the smells of dorm food, marijuana and tear gas. He adhered to the Berkeley dress code, and therefore his fellow Bowlesmen fittingly bestowed upon him the nickname "Abe" (see pictures of both Abes accompanying this article). He continued playing his trombone, both for the University Symphony and various brass choir groups through which he earned some spending money. In his first quarter he needed a class to fill out his schedule and he took beginning computer programming. Never having been exposed to computers before (a difficult concept for today's youth), he quickly realized that he had found his calling and chose Computer Science as his major.Perhaps an important highlight of his college career is something that didn't happen. Back then there was a lottery for the draft by birthday, and Howard's birthday drew lottery number 101. In every other year a number that low was a ticket to Vietnam. But in Howard's year of eligibility the draft was suspended for some months due to widespread protests. Ultimately, the highest number drafted that year was 95. Howard and his best college friend Pat (lottery number 96) had quite a celebration at the end of December.
When Howard graduated from college I lost track of him because I stayed in the closet while he moved on. I heard that he spent a couple years working for Burroughs Corp. in Pasadena, CA as a computer programmer. He got married. He moved to Portland, OR in 1977 to work for Tektronix, again as a computer programmer. He and his wife had two great kids. He went to work for several start-up companies that never panned out, leaving him periodically unemployed. Somewhere around 1990 Howard's father found me still waiting in the closet and asked Howard what to do with me. Howard came and picked me up, and rekindled his coin collecting interests. This time was different - he had a little money and he bought coins rather than collecting from circulation. He started with Morgan Dollars and a few other series. He got the idea to collect all of the nickels starting with shield nickels. Before he finished the date set of shield nickels he had discovered the fantastic varieties that the shield nickel series has to offer, and soon his plans to collect all the nickels were abandoned in favor of building a shield nickel variety collection. (You can visit his web site devoted to 1883/2 shield nickels at 1883/2 Shield Nickel web pages
There were good times and bad times in Portland. Howard started his own computer consulting business in 1990, and it is still going strong today. He went through a difficult divorce, but emerged much stronger. Today he still lives in Portland with his new love. For now, I still live with Howard too. But one of Howard's sons is interested in coin collecting. Someday I will probably go to live with him, as Howard realizes he can only be my temporary caretaker. I am fortunate indeed to have found a home where I have been appreciated for so long.
The Shield Nickel
Picture courtesy of Howard Spindel
| I think it only fitting that being Howard Spindel is the subject of the Bio column this issue that the featured coin be his specialty, the first nickel five cent piece, the Shield Nickel. First minted in 1866 right after the end of the Civil War this James Barton Longacre design started a long line of five cent nickel coinage that has endured to this day, a true standard in American coinage.
President Andrew Johnson signed the law in 1866 that authorized the new five cent copper-nickel coin. The coin was made legal tender up to one dollar and was to be paid out for lawful currency of the United States. ( except for the half cent, the cent, or the two cent piece ) The coin was to be 77.16 grains in weight and be composed of 75% copper and 25% nickel. The rays on the 1866 and 1867 coins were removed because of striking problems with the coin and not because of the rumored Longacre's southern sympathies because of the 'Stars and Bars' on the coins reverse. Due to the coins hardness and the mints technology at the time there are numerous varieties to keep the specialist in this series busy for years. There are probably still undiscovered die combinations varieties some hundred and thirty some years after the coins introduction.
What is the Union Shield ?
There are three distinct types of the twenty dollar gold piece commonly called the Saint-Gaudens after its designer Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The first was the Standing Liberty with Roman Numerals for the date and this was only on the first year of the coin, 1907. The second was the Standing Liberty with Arabic Numerals that encompassed the years 1907 and 1908. The third type was the Standing Liberty with motto that was minted from 1908 though the end of the series in 1933.
The answer is: The Shield of the United States as it appears on the Great Seal and, with some variation on the reverse of some United States coins. The horizontal lines at the top represent blue in heraldic terms, and the vertical stripes represent red with white denoted by the absence of any lines. The blue field represent the Congress of the United States supported by the red and white stripes representing the thirteen original colonies. The Shield is so arranged that Congress holds the states together while depending solely on their support to maintain the Union .|
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