Silver Dollar 1923

It is a wintery day with rain and wind. So time for the attic clean up, which I always seem to put off.

Among the knickknacks I find an old cardboard box that survived our 5 removals so far. When I open it, there are remaining holiday coins from the United States, France, Germany and England. And a broken piece of school chalk, a piece of soap, a ballpoint pen, a package of (far from complete) playing cards and some beautifully colored   U.S. postage stamps. One of the coins draws my attention as it is considerably larger and, as I weigh it in my hand, rather heavy and ugly discolored into almost black.

I think of the high gold- and especially silver prices and when I, standing behind the kitchen table, have been working on it for half an hour with a woolen cloth and silver polish, the origin shines at me from both sides its respond: It is a silver dollar out of 1923. “So it must have  belonged to my father’[1],” I think aloud.

“Google” explains: “A silver (90% and 10% copper) U.S. “Peace Dollar” from 1923, with on its front side a female, looking at her left side, with a “liberty head” (like that of the Statue of Liberty in New York, but with the head of the wife of the author, Mrs. Mary Teresa Di Fransisci) and the inevitable “In God We Trust.” On the back side an eagle, facing right, landed on a high rock, creaking an olive branch. The mintages are Denver, Philadelphia and San Francisco. This mint mark is on the edge of the coin, just above the tip of the tail of the eagle. San Francisco is the rarest location and minted with an “s”. This coin has a value of between     $ 20.00 and $ 4,000.00.”

I tell the story to my wife and say gently: “Well, we are not going to get the jackpot here, but it does look really cool! There is not a scratch on it!” I hand it to her: “Feel this out with your finger, there is the mint mark. That must be a “d”, a “p” or hopefully an “s”.  But I cannot read it with my hand-lens.” My wife cannot either. Final decision: “I’m going to take it to the jeweler to have it examined.”

In the center of the village I enter the jewelry shop of Popma & Popma right away. On that moment there are no other customers, so I propose my question to Mr. Popma Jr. He glances at the coin and hands it over to his father: “Can you see which letter is listed just above the tail of the bird?” Sr. takes a magnifying lens out of the inside of his suit and slides it for the right eye of his spectacles. He holds the coin just below there for a second and says without hesitation: “It’s an “s”. While giving me the coin back he says: “You did not do it quite right. You should not have polished it so intensely.”

“You’ve got that silver friend, don’t you?” my wife sais as I  have numismatically briefed her. “That’s a splendid idea! He is an expert in all that has to do with silver. And he has connections all over the world. I mail Jan the whole story in  a just a minute!”

That same evening I got an email in return: “As you describe it: that is undoubtedly a fine specimen. “Uncirculated” such a coin is probably worth up to  $ 4,000.00, but then you had, as  a manner of speaking, to catch the coin the same minute after it was minted in a stocking and put it in a safe right away. Now your father and you had it, so it has circulated. The silver value is $ 17.25. Then your coin is being fused to withdraw the silver out of it. Would you therefore prefer to sell it, then you have to go to a kind of electronic American Marketplace. I only just “googled” for you and on E-Bay alone there are 2007 pieces for sale between 20 and 40 dollars this day. And when you may have a buyer (if you find one whatsoever) you have to be bickering about who should pay the shipping costs. This is all I can make of it. And you should not have polished it; Collectors don’t like that.”

The Silver Dollar lays in front of me on the  kitchen table. I have decided to keep it and I put it back in its box. It shines so beautifully.

(June 2013)

[1] My father lived in the USA from 1922 to 1951.

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