Who Is On The Jefferson Nickel?

In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the history behind the inspiration for the Jefferson Nickel. Keep in mind that many of the portraits, paintings, photographs, and sculptures used when designing coins are not 100% what the coin looks like. So, take a few to explore this history behind the coins!

Jefferson Nickel Coins  |  Jean-Antoine Houdon’s Bust of Thomas Jefferson

When the decision was to be made for who would take the place of the Indian on the nickel, it was a simple choice in choosing one of the Founding Fathers of the Constitution, Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was instrumental in the birth of the nation, and his bust graced the new nickels. The bust was based off of the famous sculpture done by Jean-Antoine Houdon. Houdon was famous for his marble busts of Presidents. One of his more notable bust was that of George Washington, which is housed in the Capital Building to this day. It only makes sense to base the portrait of this coin off of such a well-deserved President. The reverse of the coin also paid tribute to Jefferson by showing his house, the Monticello.

monticello jefferson nickelJefferson Nickel Coins  |  Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

The Monticello was the primary plantation for President Thomas Jefferson. Located in Charlottesville, Virginia, the slave plantation occupied over 5,000 acres of land that Jefferson inherited at age 26. Shortly after his father passed away, he began building the plantation. This plantation served mixed uses. There were a variety of crops farmed here, including the ever popular tobacco. The Plantation was created in the Neo-Classical style, which Jefferson himself was obsessed with. The house sits on a mountain top which is where it derives the name “Monticello” from (meaning “Little Mountain”). This design has also shown up on the reverse of early $2 bills.


Who Is On The Buffalo Nickel?

In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the history behind the inspiration for the Buffalo Nickel. Keep in mind that many of the portraits, paintings, photographs, and sculptures used when designing coins are not 100% what the coin looks like. So, take a few to explore this history behind the coins!

Buffalo Nickel CoinBuffalo Nickel Coins  |  Chief Iron Tail

The Buffalo Nickel began is tenure in the year 1913 and continued on through 1938. The Native American whose portrait is used on the coin is often said to be one of two men: Chief Iron Tail or Chief Two Moons. However, it is widely accepted that Chief Iron Tail was the main model, possibly for everything but the hair. Iron Tail became the Chief of the Oglala Lakota Tribe shortly before his rise to fame in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. To this day, Chief Iron Tail is somewhat of a celebrity tribal leader and one of the most photographed Native Americans of the day. The image above shows a great angle for which the coin was based off of. Iron Tail’s mother was once asked why she named him that. Her reply was that “when he was a young boy”, she “saw him chasing a heard of buffalos across the field, and all of the buffalos had their tails straight up in the air because they were afraid of the boy. Their tails looked like they had Iron Tails.” Even at a young age, Chief Iron Tail was already becoming a legend in his own time. And, it is only fitting that the reverse of the coin is the very animal that he chased. One unique thing of note to look for when collecting the buffalo nickel is to look for a coin that only has two features, as opposed to the regular three. This happened as a result of over polishing the die used to make the coin.

buffalo nickelBuffalo Nickel Coins  |  Black Diamond Bison

When it comes to the reverse of the Buffalo Nickel, there is no debate on which animal the coin was based off of, but there is debate when it comes to the name of the coin. A Bison from the Central Park Zoo named Black Diamond was used as the model for the nickel. However, the populations call this coin the Buffalo Nickel. I am just as guilty as the next guy, but by all means, this coin should be called the Bison Nickel. As the story goes, Black Diamond was a long time resident at the Central Park Zoo. When Fraser went to the park to draw the design for the coin, Black Diamond wouldn’t let him get a side view. Anytime Fraser would move to the Bison’s side, Black Diamond would turn to face him. After hours upon hours of standing, Fraser finally got the drawing he needed. In 1915, Black Diamond fell ill at the age of 22. The Zoo attempted to auction him off to spend the rest of his days in the open field. No bids were received and the Zoo sold him privately to a slaughterhouse. There was over 700 pounds of usable meat on Black Diamond’s body, and the slaughterhouse sold his meat at a price of $2 per pound. Black Diamond’s head was taken to a taxidermist and mounted. To this day, the Black Diamond head still makes appearances at coin shows across the country.


Who Is On The Lincoln Small Cent?

In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the history behind the inspiration for the Lincoln Small Cent. Keep in mind that many of the portraits, paintings, photographs, and sculptures used when designing coins are not 100% what the coin looks like. So, take a few to explore this history behind the coins!

Lincoln Small Cent CoinsLincoln Small Cent Coins  |  William Willard’s Abraham Lincoln

In 1809, The United States of America’s greatest President was born. Through his years he struggled up the ranks to become the 16th President of the United States. So, when the Mint ordered a new small cent, it only made sense (or should I say cents) to put Abraham Lincoln on the obverse. Not only was he being honored with this coin, but it was also released on the 100th anniversary of his birth. The painting used for the engraving was done by William Willard and now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. This coin is still in use, although the reverse designs have changed multiple times throughout the century. At first, the reverse design features what was known as “wheat ears” to either side of the coin with text in the center. In 1959 that design was changed to show the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse. In 2009, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the President’s birth, the design was changed four times during the year to reflect four different stages of his life. Finally, in 2010, the reverse was changed to a shield and has stayed that way since. It is clear that the cent has become a famous staple of the United States coinage, perhaps because of the iconic figure the it represents. The illustration on the obverse depicts and exact reproduction of the famous Willard bust painting in the Smithsonian.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial Coins  |  The Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial has long stood as a symbol in the United States. Inside the monument is a statue of a seated Abraham Lincoln. The Memorial has graced the reverse of the United States cent from 1959 until 2008. However, in 2009, the United States Mint changed the reverse design to reflect Lincoln’s life and the stages he grew through.

Lincoln BirthplaceLincoln Birthplace Coins  |  Abraham Lincoln’s First Home

Abraham Lincoln, the United State’s 16th President, was born in rural central Kentucky. The Lincoln’s property was very rough and developed a young Lincoln’s character. The property has a sinkhole that was used to gather water, and a very rustic log cabin. Nowadays, there is the “Original” Lincoln Memorial on the property to commemorate the important person born at that place. On the reverse of the 2009 Cent is the house that the Lincoln family lived in during Abraham’s childhood.

Lincoln Rail SplitterLincoln Railsplitter Coins  | Jean Leon Gerome Ferris’ Railsplitter

One of young Abraham Lincoln’s favorite pastimes was splitting wood and reading. In 1909, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris painted The Railsplitter, which depicted the young man chopping wood. This painting was used to draw inspiration for the newest 2009 reverse of the Lincoln small cent. The coin shows a slightly different illustration of Lincoln sitting on the log while reading a book.


Who Is On The Indian Head Small Cent?

In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the history behind the inspiration for the Indian Head Small Cent. Keep in mind that many of the portraits, paintings, photographs, and sculptures used when designing coins are not 100% what the coin looks like. So, take a few to explore this history behind the coins!

Indian Head Small CentIndian Head Small Cent Coins  |  Statue of Venus by Edmonia Lewis

There has been much chatter about the source of inspiration for James B. Longacre’s bust of an Indian on the Indian Head Small Cent. However, in Longacre’s words, the design was based upon the profile of the Bust of Venus by Edmonia Lewis. At the time of Longacre’s work, the statue was on loan in Philadelphia from the Vatican. When looking at this statue from a profile view, it is easy to tell that Longacre drew inspiration from this famous statue. Edmonia Lewis made several other statues that look even more like the coin, however, as story has it, this was the main statue used for the coin’s design. However, the reason many people dispute the story is because of one famous myth. Longacre was said to have taken his daughter to work with him frequently so that she could be exposed daily to a working society. She would sit in his studio as he drew his new illustrations for coinage. One day, when a group of Native American’s were in his studio, his daughter tried on all of their headdresses. Many people have assumed that the illustration is a drawing of her with the headdress. However, there are no actual claims of documentation to support that. In addition to the lack of documentation, at the time this design was created, James Longacre’s daughter would have been 30 years old rather than 12 to 14 like many people would have assumed.


Who Is On The Draped Bust Half Cent?

In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the history behind the inspiration for the Draped Bust Half Cent. Keep in mind that many of the portraits, paintings, photographs, and sculptures used when designing coins are not 100% what the coin looks like. So, take a few to explore this history behind the coins!

Draped Bust Half Cent Coins  |  Anne Willing Bingham

Anne Willing Bingham was a Philadelphia socialist who was regarded by many as the most beautiful woman of her time. Among her numerous titles, she was the daughter of the President of the First Bank of the United States, mother of Alexander Baring the first Baron of Ashburton, wife of the very wealthy William Bingham, and worked with Thomas Jefferson. Her work with Jefferson led to the construction of the Bill of Rights. Her correspondence with Jefferson, through letters, urged him to consider the rights of the people and how those rights would be taken away if the government continued to overstep. It is no doubt why Robert Scot chose Mrs. Bingham to represent Lady Liberty on the coin. Gilbert Stuart painted several portraits of Anne throughout the years. Those portraits were used to create this rather busty bust of Anne Willing Bingham for the coin. Mrs. Bingham hardly ever got to see the coin, though, because she passed away aboard a ship headed to Bermuda and was subsequently buried there. While the portrait on the coin isn’t an exact representation of her, there are major similarities in the face and hair. The Draped Bust Half Cent coin design was also used on all other denominations of coinage, as was the standard in the day. The Mint used this method of one design to reduce the costs associated with developing a new design every few years.


Why Sell Your Coins in a Coin Auction?

We get this question all of the time: Why should I put my coins in a Coin Auction? Well, to start, it depends on what coins you have. In some cases it might not make sense to do a coin auction. Most coins under $100 in value would be better to sell outright to an auction house rather than sending it through the auction process. I will give you a list of why it is best to auction higher value coins.

  • When you put your valuable coin into a coin auction, there are a large number of collectors that will see your lot. Sure eBay has millions of members, but who goes on eBay to get top dollar for something that is meaningful to them? Not many people. So when you are looking to sell your coin, go to the place where collectors will fight over what you have, not to the place where everyone will try to low-ball you.
  • An auction is run by specialized professionals. eBay is run by professionals web managers. Craigslist is run by the people. When you are selling your valuable inheritance or your grandfather’s coin collection, don’t you want it in the hands of the most capable people? Coin auctioneers are going to have much more experience with the type of coin you have as opposed to an eBay employee or User janedoe99 from eBay.
  • A local coin shop is not going to pay nearly the amount that a collector will pay. Keep in mind that local coin shops want your coin at the cheapest price so that they can have the largest margins. A collectors wants your coin because it will complete their collection. A person who is looking to complete a collection will be much more willing to dish out the extra money.
  • On the topic of coin shops and coin dealers, dealers will look to give you as little as possible for your coins. They have bills to pay. They need to keep their doors open and their lights on. So, if you come in with a $200 coin, expect to be offered $75 so that they can make a large profit on the coin. That isn’t how an auction house works. Coin auctions houses will charge the buyer, and sometimes the seller, as premium or commission. But, since this commission is normally paid by the buyer, the seller has relatively low cost which will maximize their profit.

So, next time you are looking to sell your coin, remember to not take it to a local coin shop unless you need fast cash now. However, give an auction consideration. You never known what you might be able to get out of your rare coin. We highly recommend Stack’s Bowers Auctions out of California because of their low costs, friendly service, and ease of use.


Stack’s Bowers Auctions Off Record Setting Collection

1793 Chain Cent

In a record setting auction, Stack’s Bowers Auctions out of California sold the D. Brent Pogue Collection for just over $106.7 million dollars. The collection had a series of record coins. A 1793 Flowing Hair Chain (to left) cent sold for $998,750 in Part 3 of the auction, which took place in February of 2016. In a more recent auction, an 1804 Silver Dollar fetched more than $3,000,000. These high realized prices aren’t just a matter of luck. These prices come from a collector who strategically and systematically added to and built his collection. Most of the coins were purchased one at a time. Take a few minutes to dive into the fascinating world of the largest single coin auction in history. For more information on the collection, we have also provided links at the bottom to help satisfy all of your curiosity.

Let’s Take a Look at Some of the Collection

  • Early American Copper coins, half cents and large cent, make up a bulk of the collection.

  • Many of the coins in the Pogue Collection were acquired before the era of certification, therefore emphasizing the great eye that D. Brent Pogue has for a quality coin.
  • Pogue’s collection of $3 Gold Pieces surpassed the $1.9 Million estimate and netted $2.6 Million.
  • In the 2016 sale, the first 11 lots with a face value of $0.05 netted a total of $4.159 Million.
  • There were 685 coins in the collection, averaging out to $155,766 per coin.

1796 Draped Bust QuarterOne of our favorite coins in this impressive collection was the 1796 Draped Bust Quarter (Image B). The quarter had nice orange and yellow toning around the rim of the coin, and featured well defined lines. This coin realized $1.527 Million.

It is needless to say that hard work, patience, a good eye, and a quality action house will help a great collection become the best collection ever sold. For more information on the D. Brent Pogue Sale, click here. For more information on Stack’s Bowers Auctions and the services that they provide, click here. We hope that you have enjoyed this sneak peak inside the most valuable coin auction to date. If you have any new topics or questions you would like answered, please let us know!