On a hot afternoon this summer, I found myself wandering a suburban park in search of a grave.
Like most wild goose chases, it started innocently enough. I’d been part of a discussion about the so-called “Nagy Restrikes” of one of the most well-loved coins of the gold rush: the Baldwin Horseman $10. I say so-called, because A) the pieces in question are not restrikes at all, they’re made from imitation dies, and B) I’m pretty sure that Stephen Nagy – a coin dealer blamed for many sketchy fantasy pieces of the early 20th century – was around 10 years old when the aforementioned imitation dies were made (probably to make souvenir spoons for the California Midwinter Fair of 1894, but that’s a story for another day).
As luck would have it, a package of these coins arrived at my office while the discussion was going on, and alongside the “restrikes” there was something a little more interesting: an 1844 large cent overstruck with dies for a Horseman $10. This Horseman $10 wasn’t one of the imitation pieces, but it wasn’t a Baldwin $10 either. When I saw it, the first thing I thought was, Holy shit, that’s rare!
Published by NPR on August 1st, 2017:
In 2013, David McCarthy spotted a rare coin in an auction catalog and immediately had a hunch it was the first coin minted by the fledgling United States of America in 1783. Not the first run of coins, mind you, but the very firstone.
McCarthy, an experienced numismatist (coin collector) bought the silver coin for $1.18 million.
The Associated Press writes:
"The day of the 2013 auction in Schaumburg, Illinois, McCarthy sat in his hotel room with his files and air conditioning cranked on high. He methodically convinced his boss, Donald Kagin, that the coin up for auction was the nation's first. It was a nuanced case since other d
THE NATION'S FIRST DOCTOR OF NUMISMATICS SHARES HIS GOLDEN PICKS
Appeared in COINage Magizine, April 2018
Scott Travers is one of the best promoters of numismatics and has written scores of books and articles and given dozens of lectures educating thousands of collectors on all aspects of numismatics. So when he called me 12 days before deadline and said, “Dr. Kagin [even after 35 years he still calls me this] I need to fill some pages for Coinage Magazine for a special feature edition on gold coins. You’ve owned or auctioned some of the greatest pieces ever, so why don’t you write about your ten favorite?” Anyone who knows Scott would understand why I couldn’t say no. Over my 60 years of collecting, cataloging and dealing in numismatics, I have been blessed with handling so many cool pieces that it’s hard to narrow my favorites down to just ten coins, so I set a few criteria for each coin. First, they had to be gold, they had to be historically important and thereby tell a fascinating story, they either had to be aesthetically beautiful works of art or otherwise rally cool, and I had to have owned them at least once. With two slight fudges, here is my list.