Monday, September 12, 2016

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – The Cartagena Collection of St. Gaudens Double Eagles

The Cartagena Collection now being auctioned by Great Collections is a near complete collection of St. Gaudens double eagles that belonged to a collector that splits his time between the United States and Colombia.   You can view the collection by visiting the Great Collections website and searching on “Cartagena Collection”.       
If anyone wants to know more about the collector’s experiences in Colombia, send me a note and I will see what I can come up with. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – PCGS Certification Verification for Wells Fargo Hoard

Both PCGS and NGC offer a free verification system for coins that they have graded/authenticated.  I frequently use respective services for coins that I am considering purchasing to guarantee the authenticity.  In most cases it is relatively simple by just typing in the certification number; however, recently I was investigating an MS67 St. Gaudens double eagle graded by PCGS from the Wells Fargo Hoard and learned of an additional adjustment that is required to authenticate coins from this hoard.  I was aware of the 1 manipulation, but the 2nd option shown below was new to me so I wanted to share it with fellow collectors.

PCGS Certification Verification for Wells Fargo Hoard:

Cert starting with 1: Drop the W and F, change the second 1 to a zero.  For example: on the label W1103158F = 1003158 for Cert Verif.

Cert starting with any other number: Drop the W and F.
Thanks to PCGS Customer Service for providing me with this information.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Rick's Pedigree Coins – Binion Collection 1888 MS66 VAM-16A Morgan Silver Dollar

The Binion 1888 VAM-16A variety Morgan silver dollar has two characteristics that make it an interesting addition to a Binion silver dollar collection. 


As of the writing of this article, NGC has only authenticated four (4) MS66 silver dollars in the entire population of over 19 million minted 1888 silver dollars as VAM-16A.  No coin with a grade higher than MS66 has been graded/authenticated as a VAM-16A by NGC.  This is a “Hot Top-50” VAM variety.  (Source:  NGC Census on March 24, 2016.)


The October 2009 NGC Census report showed zero coins had been identified with the VAM-16A variety from the Binion Hoard.  However, the January 2014 NGC Census report showed the population as 1 coin and it was graded as an MS65.  This is a good example of how observant collectors are finding and returning rare VAM’s within the Binion Hoard for reclassification.  Further, the example here is an MS66 and would push the population count to 2 silver dollars in the Binion collection with a VAM-16A variety designation.  This coin was an excellent find by an observant Binion collector.   As would be expected and as further support as a new discovery, this coin is encased in a new variety NGC slab as compared to the older traditional slabs used when the Binion hoard was originally authenticated/graded. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Rick's Pedigree Coins – Binion 1922 VAM-2C Peace Dollar

Collecting rare and/or low population coins for the various “Pedigreed” collections and hoards expands the fun of the hunt.  Many Pedigrees have population reports published (Nevada Silver Collection, GSA CC Silver Dollars, Binion Collection, Fitzgerald Collection, Battle Creek Collection, etc.) so the collector has a check sheet to reference.  In other collections/hoards, the collector has learned that certain type coins are more difficult to find.  For example, the fan of the Omaha Bank Hoard has found that Buffalo Nickels, Mercury Dimes, Walking Liberty Half Dollars and Peace or Morgan Silver Dollars are more difficult to locate and often prized when they are found.
One rare coin from the Binion hoard is the 1922 VAM-2C variety Peace Dollar.  On the one hand, the example is a lower MS grade (MS61) and a pretty ugly coin as shown in the pictures below.  However, on the other hand, the coin has a population of only “1” in the NGC census report for the Binion Hoard.  Even with the coin having less than blazing eye-appeal, the unique population of being the only 1 (presently) from the Hoard has a “premium” appeal for the Binion collector.      


Monday, January 25, 2016

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – Binion 1878, 7/8TF, VAM-32 and Fitzgerald 1878, 7TF, Reverse of ‘78

As many of you know, when I retired my activity in the pedigree/hoard coin arena has diminished but I do still retain an interest in the hobby.  Two of my favorite collections are the Binion and Fitzgerald hoards because the collector can assemble a diverse and interesting set.  Although, with the popularity of those two hoards, coins other than common coins are becoming increasingly difficult to locate.  However, recently I found two rarities on auction sites Ebay and GreatCollections and they are shown below:
Binion Collection Population - 1 Silver Dollar.

Binion Collection – Extremely Rare (Unique) – This is another rarest of the rare Morgan silver dollars in two ways.  First, this is the only VAM-32 variety graded and authenticated in the Binion Hoard.  You will find no other; this is it.  Second, NGC has only graded 16 Morgan VAM-32 silver dollars in the entire population of 1878.  It is a Top-100 VAM variety silver dollar.  Binion Source: NGC Census Report 2009 and NGC 2014 Binion Census Report.  VAM-32 Source: NGC Census January 25, 2016.

Fitzgerald Collection Population - 4 Silver Dollars.

With a population of only 4 silver dollars of this variety in the Fitzgerald Collection, this coin is highly sought by the Fitzgerald Collector. Interestingly, all 4 coins have been graded as MS64.
Finding rarities for a pedigree or hoard is what makes the hobby so much fun.  I would enjoy hearing of any unique coins that any readers may have found and if you approve, will be glad to add them to this blog.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Rick's Pedigree Coins – Fitzgerald 1882-O Morgan Silver Dollar - Bonhams Auctions

Fitzgerald Morgan silver dollars are becoming more difficult to acquire in both common and rare dates.  When I say common dates I am referring to date/mintmarks that are common to the hoard and rare dates relative to the Fitzgerald population for the coin.  Currently, common dates seem to be demanding a premium to acquire and the rare dates are almost impossible to locate.

I have had a little luck in expanding my search for the rare dates from the traditional Ebay source to GreatCollections ( and David Lawrence Rare Coins (   Both have provided me with some more difficult Fitzgerald Morgan’s as well as Binion silver dollars.  As I continue to “beat the bushes” for Fitzgerald surprises, I ventured on Bonhams Auctions (  Bonhams brought collectors the Champagne Lanson Bonnet Vineyard Collection of gold coins that I covered in an earlier article.  At first, I just had a passing interest in the auction because I really did not think they would have anything of Pedigree interest so I quickly scanned the offerings in their September 14, 2015, auction.  Like many auction houses, what is of interest and importance to me (Pedigree coins) does not enter their radar.  They are not alone in this view as Heritage, Stacks and the old Teletrade also often ignore Binion, Fitzgerald, etc., pedigrees.  But then, while looking at a bundled group of “throw-away” coins I noticed a very rare Fitzgerald date/mintmark Morgan.  (“Throw-away” coins: common, low value and/or poor eye appearance coins that are not worth promoting or selling individually).

My find was an 1882-O Fitzgerald Morgan silver dollar “hard” graded as MS63.  It really did not register with me at first how rare this coin was in the hoard.  I glanced at my Fitzgerald inventory and saw I had one – and again almost past the coin by, but I noticed mine was “soft” graded as AU.  Suddenly I had a little more interest and reached for my Fitzgerald bible, “Fitzgerald Silver Dollar Collection – The Purple Gang Set” and referred to the population report.  The Fitzgerald population report showed only 25 coins were hard graded from the hoard.  Since it was late on a Friday and the auction was Monday morning, I had to jump through some hoops to get registered (authorized) to bid.  I won’t mention names, but one lady in Bonhams’ client services went beyond boundaries to get me registered and able to bid.  Thanks to her, I know own one of the 25 known hard graded 1882-O Morgan’s from the Fitzgerald stash. 

(The "hard" graded 1882-O Fitzgerald Collection Morgan silver dollar appearing in Bonhams' September 14, 2015 auction).

(The "soft" graded 1882-O Fitzgerald Morgan silver dollar that appeared in "Fitzgerald Silver Dollar Collection - The Purple Gang Set").

Although I have cut back on my Pedigree coin collecting, one thing that still interest me are coins from the Binion and Fitzgerald hoards that have populations within those respective hoards of less than 50 coins.  As a reminder, when I talk populations I talk of coins that have not only been authenticated as from the hoards but also received “hard” grades.  My population figures do not include “soft” graded coins designated simply as “Brilliant Uncirculated” or some similar designation.  All this “jargon” is covered in detail in my book “Fitzgerald Silver Dollar Collection – The Purple Gang Set”.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Rick's Pedigree Coins – Listings on GreatCollections Auctions – Final Listing

GreatCollections Auctions ( has listed the remainder of the  pedigree coins consigned to them that appeared in my book, “Rick’s Legacy – Pedigree & Hoard / Coins & Currency” in their auction with a starting bid of $1.  The listing includes:

GC Item
 Redfield Silver Dollar
 Battle Creek Collection
 Rive d'Or $10 Liberty Gold
 Golden Gate Collection $5 Indian Gold
 Carson City Collection Morgan Silver Dollar