Sunday, August 27, 2017

Rick's Pedigree Coins - Mapes Casino Collection

Rick's Pedigree Coins  -  Mapes Casino Collection
Littleton Coin Company ( has provided the Pedigree Collector with several interesting collections in the past and with the acquisition of the “Mapes Casino Collection”, Littleton again is introducing another special line for the pedigree collector.  I especially like Littleton’s choice of the NGC holder and special label to display the unique collectible.  The following was taken from Littleton’s press release regarding the Mapes Casino collectible:

Recently we hit the jackpot when we were offered coins from an original bag of 1881-S Morgans – and now Lady Luck shines on you. Coming across an original bag of Morgans rarely happens nowadays... and it’s even more unusual when it’s tied directly to history! These beauties once belonged to Charles Mapes, Jr., the owner of the Mapes Hotel in Reno, NV. According to our sources, this was his favorite bag and he set it aside because he felt the silver dollars inside were especially attractive.

When the Mapes Hotel opened in the heart of downtown Reno in December 1947, it was one of the first in Reno with dining, casinos and a nightclub. The top floor held the fabulous Sky Room, hosting Mae West, Judy Garland, Milton Berle, Sammy Davis Jr. and more. With two casinos, the Mapes went through lots of Morgan dollars. Nevada gambling rules required casinos to have cash on hand and that “cash” was silver dollars,so Charles Mapes got to see thousands of Morgan dollars. Although Charles lost control of his hotel in 1982 and it was demolished in 2000, these coins from his original bag of 1881-S Morgans from the San Francisco Mint remain. Now you can own a silver dollar from the legendary Mapes casino in very desirable grades. Each 1881-S is graded by our experts and certified by NGC with the Mapes Casino Hoard label. These lustrous, fully struck Morgans with their unusual pedigree will be showpieces in any collection.”

Many of the coins that I have seen from this group have attractive toning as well as excellent eye-appeal.  And the nice thing is that all you need to do is get one coin and you have a complete year/mintmark collection!
The pedigree collector may also expand the Mapes Casino collection to include other items like dice or chips.  And the collector that focuses on silver dollars with a Nevada heritage has another line to add to his Binion, Fitzgerald, Cal-Neva, etc., samples.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – 1902-O Binion Collection MS64 Morgan Silver Dollar

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – 1902-O Binion Collection MS64 Morgan Silver Dollar

My 1902-O Binion MS64 Morgan silver dollar is an excellent example of how the Binion Population Report has minor changes over time.  The collector should understand that changes in population statistics do take place and why they occur.  For example, both the NGC 2014 database and the NGC 2009 Census Report show “zero” 1902-O Binion Morgan silver dollars “Hard” graded.  And as mentioned several times in the past, there are no published population reports for “Soft” graded or coins that were simply authenticated as being from the hoard.  So how does this happen?  At times, Binion collectors as well as coin dealers return Binion authenticated silver dollars to NGC for “Hard” grading.  Case in point is the 1902-O shown below.  Note that it has the unique Binion label and is a newer design NGC holder.

The new NGC holder assists the Binion collector in deducing the approximate time of regrading and the unique Binion label brings some comfort to the authentication of the coin.  But I am going to rock your comfort level with 2 observations.  First, NGC has taken the position that they will no longer use the special Binion label for collectors returning Binion coins for regrading.  I have had several contacts with NGC and even told them I would like to return over 30 coins that have been Binion authenticated for regrading (all the coins have “zero” available in Binion “Hard” grades).  Even with what I consider a respectable number of coins ($$ for NGC) they still stood firm that they would not use the unique Binion label.  So you may be seeing white NGC Binion labels appearing in the future.  You can still verify the authenticity Binion pedigree by using the NGC verification system (  I have also encountered similar situations with Fitzgerald silver dollars.  And again, I have consulted the NGC verification page to confirm the coin was the real thing.

The second point of interest for the Binion collector is that the NGC verification system is not always correct.  While this is infrequent, at times you may come across a Binion labeled coin (old holder and original label) that is not designated as a Binion in the NGC verification system.  This also disrupts (albeit very minor) the population statistics.  If you come across a rare Binion that you believe is legitimate but not shown in the verification system, simply contact NGC with a picture of the coin and present your case as why you think the NGC system should be adjusted to reflect the proper information.  NGC is relatively quick at responding and does correct the database.  I have an example of this that I will cover in a later blog – and the correction was made in one week.   

Binion Collection Population - Not Available for "Soft" Graded Coins
  • Binion Collection – According to the NGC 2014 and 2009 Census Report, there were no 1902-O Binion Morgan silver dollars hard graded and authenticated. The 1902-O shown here has been “soft” graded by NGC as Brilliant Uncirculated and highly sought by the educated Binion collector.

Binion Collection Population - 1 Silver Dollar.
  • Binion Collection – Extremely Rare (Unique) – This 1902-O Morgan silver dollars from the Binion hoard has a unique story and supports the position that coins from this hoard are still being returned to NGC for grading. Interestingly, neither the NGC Census Report 2009 nor the NGC 2014 Binion Census Report show a population for the 1902-O (graded/authenticated). As previously mentioned, both population statistics only cover hard graded and authenticated coins. They do not include coins that received the “soft” grade of BU, AU or some other non-numeric classification and do not include coins simply authenticated. But yet, here is a graded/authenticated 1902-O Morgan from the Binion hoard graded as MS64. Note the new holder and NGC number indicate a recent grading.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Rick's Pedigree Coins - Binion Census Report

Rick's Pedigree Coins  - Binion Census Report

I know that I have conveyed it many times in the past, but I want to repeat myself regarding the population statistics that I report for Binion coins.   The counts/population/census that I report and discuss are only for “Hard” graded silver dollars.
Silver dollars from the Binion hoard can be classified in three distinct categories. 

1.)    “Hard” graded coins:  These are coins that have been authenticated as from the Binion hoard and receive real and defined grades.  The grade is in the standard numeric format.  For example, MS63 or VF35.

2.)    “Soft” graded coins:  These coins have been authenticated and received a “soft” grade classification.  For example, Brilliant Uncirculated or Almost Uncirculated.  They do not have a numeric grade.

3.)    Only authenticated coins:  These have been authenticated as from the Binion hoard but have not received any “hard” or “soft” grade.
Examples of each group follow:

This 1878 7/8TF VAM32 Binion is classifed as a "Hard" graded coin because it has been authenticated as from the Binion hoard and contains a real, numeric grade of XF40.  The NGC Binion population is "1" for this coin.

The 1881 Binion shown above is a "Soft" graded coin.  It was not given a numeric grade; however, still a very attractive coin to include in a Binion collection because the "Hard" graded population is "zero" coins.  So, a collector's choice for this coin is either a "Soft" graded coin or a coin only authenticated from the hoard.


The 1884-S Binion shown here is the 3rd classification catagory for coins from the Binion hoard.  The coin has been authenticated as from the hoard but did not receive either a "Hard" or "Soft" designation.  Eventhough this 1884-S is only authenticated, it is a prized addition for the Binion collector because there were "zero" 1884-S silver dollars "Hard" graded.  

The population (census) statistics that I reference are from one of two sources.  The first source is the NGC Census Report published by NGC and dated October 2009.  NGC gave this book out as promotional items at major coin shows.  I received mine at the FUN show in Orlando.  NGC has since stopped publishing this book; however, Binion collectors may want to be on the lookout for copies when they attend coin shows. 

This booklet is very detailed and includes several hundred pages.  It is also my source for publishing statistics for the Nevada Silver Collection.  Shown below is a copy of a page from the book.  Please note a few of the lines that contain the "Binion" classification.  It is a very tedious endeavor to go through the pages line by line to calculate the Binion census.

The second source is an updated Binion population census that I have complied to include in my 3rd book about the Binion hoard.  Unfortunately, publishing of that book has been delayed.
As more Binion collectors are entering this niche of collecting, I wanted to again clarify my source for Binion populations, what they include and the definition for the classification of NGC graded or authenticated coins.     


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Fitzgerald Silver Dollar Collection – Lincoln Fitzgerald’s Roots

Fitzgerald Silver Dollar Collection – Lincoln Fitzgerald’s Roots
As I wrote in my book “Fitzgerald Silver Dollar Collection – The Purple Gang Set”, the collector might expand his collection to include other items tied to the life of Lincoln Fitzgerald.  One of the items I find fun and interesting to include are casino chips from the illegal gambling houses that Lincoln and/or the Purple Gang operated.  The most famous illegal gambling club was Chesterfield Club in Detroit.  Casino chips from that club can regularly be found on Ebay at reasonable prices.  The chips shown below are the most popular available and often can be found for less than $10.

Another chip used at the Chesterfield Club just contain the inscription “24845 Gratiot Ave”.

While reviewing some old photo’s of the Chesterfield Club, I noticed the picture below.  The photo does note the address of the Chesterfield Club, but also notice the address sign on the front of the building – “24845”. 

The street number is a little difficult to see in this photo, but is very clear and visible in the original.  You can also find this photo on Ebay at times.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Fitzgerald Collection - 1902-S Morgan Silver Dollar, NGC AU58

Fitzgerald Collection Population - 1 Silver Dollar.

Only 1, 1902-S Morgan silver dollar was graded and authenticated by NGC in the Fitzgerald Nevada Club Reno Hoard and shown here is that coin.  NGC graded the coin as AU58.  This coin, with a population of 1, is the ultimate rarity in the Fitzgerald Collection and one of the kings for the collector to add to the set.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Binion Collection – 1887 Morgan Silver Dollar, MS63 PL (Proof Like)

Binion Collection – 1887 Morgan Silver Dollar, MS63 PL (Proof Like)

Binion Collection Population - 136 Silver Dollars

Binion Collection – The 1887 Binion Morgan silver dollar in PL (Proof Like) condition is a popular variety with 136 coins graded and authenticated as PL. Both the NGC January 2014 Statistics and the NGC October 2009 Census Report are consistent with this population. Both the obverse and reverse display a mirror like reflection much better that the photo’s show.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Binion Collection – 1886-O Morgan Silver Dollar, VAM-1A

Binion Collection – 1886-O Morgan Silver Dollar, VAM-1A
Binion Collection Population - 4 Silver Dollars

Binion Collection – Extremely Rare – Only 4, 1886-O Binion Morgan silver dollars were authenticated and graded by NGC. All 4 were of the VAM-1A variety and graded as VF.  Shown here are 2 of the 4 – or again, 50% of the 1886-O Binion VAM-1A population. Source: The NGC Census Report (January 2014 and October 2009).