loose coins

Photo courtesy of Thursday Review staff

A Dime’s Worth of Difference

| published January 10, 2016 |

By Earl Perkins, Thursday Review features editor

Millions of parents have told their children not to waste time or money saving, or buying, coins. They used every excuse in the book. No! They'll never be worth anything (at least no more than their face value). They take up too much space. Filthy luchre. They are heavy and cumbersome. What if we have to move?

Well, somebody who sold one coin through a Tampa, Florida auction company is getting the last laugh, according to the Associated Press.

This one recently sold for almost $2 million, due primarily to its incredible condition and rarity. The San Francisco Mint struck just 24 impressions of the 1894-S, with only nine likely still in existence.

"There's a couple of iconic rarities in the rare coin market," said David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, California. "A couple of coins have been known among the rarest of the rare for 100 years and this is one of those numismatic icons."

Hall attributed the extremely low mintage to a recession that year, which caused almost no demand for dimes. He has graded more than 30 million coins throughout his career, including this dime, and he found it to be in "spectacular condition, almost perfect."

An experienced collector outbid 15 others to emerge the "winner," paying a record $1,997,500 during the Florida United Numismatists show. Both the buyer and the previous owner told Heritage Auctions they wished to remain anonymous.

The sale has generated massive interest in the other long-missing 1894-S dimes. Heritage has offered a $10,000 reward if it is afforded the opportunity to examine any previously unreported specimens.

"They could be in somebody's desk drawer," said Mark Borckardt, senior numismatist at Heritage. "They could be sitting in somebody's bank box. People could look almost anywhere and they might show up."

Or, those rarities could be in some kid’s storage box or under his or her mattress, just waiting to be discovered by someone of a future generation. In the meantime, think about that the next time you try to figure out what to do with those old Eisenhower dollars or those old wheat pennies.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Mustang: 50 Years of the Original Pony; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; June 14, 2015.

A Treasury of Vintage and Classic Cars; Earl Perkins; Thursday Review; July 1, 2015.