Dr. Sol Taylor

More Overseas Coin Hunting Exploits

By Dr. Sol Taylor
"Making Cents"
The Signal
Saturday, November 18, 2006

flew to Acapulco for a little R-and-R after the American Numismatic Association convention in Washington, D.C., in the summer of 1971.
    There was jewelry shop on the main boulevard. Actually, there were several. I spotted some Mexican coins in the window along with the usual silver jewelry.
    Since I had purchased a few items at the ANA show including two 1890s Educational notes, I had a couple of discussion openers. The owner spoke fluent English, and I indicated I was interested in the coins in the window.
    There were 10 Mexican one-peso gold coins from the 1890s and early 1900s. He was asking $20 (U.S.) each. I showed him my Educational notes, and we struck a trade: I acquired all the one-peso gold coins in trade for about $8 U.S. Apparently I found a collector of United States obsolete notes who was more than eager to trade for my old notes.
    After the 1972 ANA convention in New Orleans, I flew to Bermuda, via new York, for a post-convention vacation. I had been stationed there in 1955 when I was in the Coast Guard and was eager to see the islands once again.
    I went directly to the Hamilton Bank, where they had a money exhibit. Luckily, they also had a display of current British gold sovereigns for sale, I believe for $8 each. The currency there is the same value as U.S. I later discovered that the 10 pieces I bought included two rather rare types: a Melbourne and a Canada. Of course, once gold started to accelerate in value, the common pieces rose dramatically.
    When I was in the Coast Guard, I spent most of my tour of duty aboard the USCGC Rockaway. During the summer of 1954, we went to Europe along with the USCGC Eagle, the Academy's training vessel.
    We stopped in Santander, on Spain's northern coast, for three days. I toured the quaint town along with a few buddies and stopped in an antique shop. I asked if they had any American coins. The owner pulled out a box of American coins and currency. Apparently these were acquired long ago, perhaps from the World War I era when American AEF forces traveled to Spain following the war. I bought the whole box for less than $100. In fact, I had to borrow some cash from my shipmates who came along antique shopping.
    The items included: several dozen barber dimes, quarters and halves in grades up to very fine; five Columbian half dollars; a Lafayette silver dollar from 1900; ten large-sized $1 and $5 notes (well used); three Seated Liberty silver dollars and four Seated Liberty half dollars; 62 Indian head cents (no key dates); 77 Lincoln cents (a few semi-key dates including two 1914-S and six 1924-D's); three Civil War-era store cards; 12 unidentified store tokens (later turned out to be rather valuable items); six love tokens on French and British coins; and the key item in the box — a nearly uncirculated Spanish Trail commemorative half dollar.
    I kept most of the items until the early 1960s when I joined the Whittier Coin Club and sold or traded all of them. In today's terms, I calculate the box's contents to be worth about $3,000.
    I stopped in Hong Kong for a day in December 1970 while traveling from New Delhi to Tokyo on PanAm flight No. 002. The airport is a microcosm of Hong Kong itself. I bought a new single-lens 35mm camera at the camera shop (my previous camera was lost in India).
    At a gift shop, I was looking for postcards when I saw a tray of British Hong Kong coins, including many of Queen Victoria. There were silver 50-cent pieces for $1 U.S. each. I bought all of them — about 30. Some were even mint condition. I also bought all of the smaller silver coins of Victoria in the tray.
    In 1970, silver coins had not started to soar in value. By 1979, silver bullion had risen to $45 an ounce (or more), and all silver coins, U.S. and foreign, rose to record highs.

    Dr. Sol Taylor of Sherman Oaks is president of the Society of Lincoln Cent Collectors and author of The Standard Guide to the Lincoln Cent. Click here for ordering information.