Monday, November 6, 2017

Rick’s Pedigree Coins – 1879-CC Fitzgerald Collection VG10 Morgan Silver Dollar

A fellow collector wrote me about a recent addition he acquired for his Fitzgerald Collection.  It came as a surprise when he visited a coin shop near his house and found an 1879-CC from the Fitzgerald Collection available.  The collector referenced the Fitzgerald population statistics in my book “Fitzgerald Silver Dollar Collection – The Purple Gang Set” and saw the population to be 3 coins.  It was his lucky day.    

Monday, October 2, 2017

Fitzgerald Collection - Highest Graded 1883-O MS66

1883-O Fitzgerald Collection Population - 657 Silver Dollars.

The 1883-O Fitzgerald Morgan silver dollar has a large population making it a popular coin for the beginning collector. However, the MS66 shown here carries the “Badge of Honor” for being the highest graded and only 1883-O MS66 from this find.  This coin has exceptional eye-appeal nearing proof like radiance. 

As always when discussing population statistics for either the Binion or Fitzgerald coins, I am referring to "graded and authenticated" coins.  There are no population statistics available for coin only authenticated from the hoard and no population statistics available for coins with "soft grades". 

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.


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.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Binion Collection – Appearance & Grading

Binion Collection – Appearance & Grading

I have covered this topic in a previous blog a few years ago but thought it may be of value to repeat it for the new Binion collectors entering the hunt.

Appearance & Grading 

Eye appearance:  Compared to other hoards, collections and general population coins, Binion silver dollars do not have great (or in many cases even good) eye appeal. This is largely due to the storage and handling the coins received while under Binion ownership and the storage as evidence by the State of Nevada.  In both cases, the coins were commodities (evidence) and not collectibles.  They received rough handling in loading, unloading, transfer and storage activities.  The coins were transferred in work trucks, tossed about like lumps of coal and work equipment was used to load and unload the coins.

Grading:  The NGC labeled Binion coins fall into 3 grading categories.  Coins in the first category were authenticated as being from the hoard and graded.  Graded coins have a “hard” grade like MS63 or AU55. They have a specific and defined grade.  Coins in the second category were authenticated and received “soft” grades.  Examples of soft grades are “Uncirculated” or “Brilliant Uncirculated”.  No numeric grade is assigned. Coins in this group are less desirable than “hard” graded coins.  And coins in the third category were authenticated as from the Binion hoard, but did not receive any grade.  Many difficult to find dated coins fall into this category.  While they are the least desirable to the refined collector, in many cases the rarity of the date/mintmark still creates a market premium for the coin.