The most talked-about coin of 2013 isn't made of metal, produced by a mint, or accepted in vending machines (yet). This year may be remembered as the year of the bitcoin. And while the bitcoin has captured headlines and imaginations worldwide, don't count out the humble metal coin just yet--unless it's the Canadian one-cent piece.
Read on for 2013's top 10 stories (in no particular order) about coins and coin collecting:
1. Say goodbye to the penny (in Canada)
In February, the Royal Canadian Mint stopped distribution of Canada's one-cent piece. While consumers may still use any pennies they have, the government instructed merchants to begin rounding to the nearest nickel. To celebrate the penny, the currency museum at Canada's central bank unveiled a new mural consisting of nearly 16,000 one-cent pieces.
2. Who needs electronic voting machines?
After a dead heat between two candidates in the mayoral race of San Teodoro was not decided by recounts, election officials in the Philippines chose a winner the old-fashioned way: by flipping a coin. At the end of the contest, Marvic Feraren, the son of a previous mayor, was declared the winner.
3. The $3 million nickel
A 1913 Liberty Head nickel fetched $3.1 million at auction this year--a price many said was a bargain for one of the world's most sought-after coins. This specimen--one of only five known to exist--was illegally cast and then forgotten about for decades before reappearing. Another 1913 Liberty Head nickel sold back in 2007 for the heady sum of $5 million.
4. Bitcoin windfall
Back in 2009, a Norwegian man purchased 5,000 bitcoins for about $27 while he was writing his thesis about encryption. Kristoffer Koch forgot about them until he read a story about bitcoins this year-- and when he checked his balance, he found that they were worth nearly $900,000. Koch exchanged 1,000 of his bitcoins, which netted him enough money to buy an apartment in one of Oslo's ritzier neighborhoods.
5. Greek coins return home
A hoard of ancient Greek silver coins was repatriated to Greece after being seized at a Swiss airport. A Swiss customs agent searching the baggage of a Belgian man who lives in Greece confiscated the 118 coins, which dated from the early 4th century BC. The coins were taken back to Greece by a professional archaeologist who delivered them to the Numismatic Museum in Athens.
6. Coin collection sells for $23 million
A 102-year-old retired lawyer from St. Louis sold his 1,800-piece coin collection for $23 million at auction. Eric P. Newman who began collecting in the 1930s and put his collection together for about $7,500. A highlight of the sale was one of the first quarters ever produced by the U.S. Mint, which Newman had purchased for $100. Struck in 1796, the coin sold for more than $1.5 million at auction.
7. The country's first curved coin
To celebrate the National Baseball Hall of Fame's 75th anniversary in 2014, the U.S. Mint has plans to produce commemorative $5 gold, $1 silver, and one-half dollar clad coins. These will be the nation's first curved coins, with the obverse of the coin concave and the reverse convex.
8. African coins may change Australian history
During World War II, Australian soldier Maurie Isenberg found a few old coins off the northern coast of the country. It wasn't until 1979 that Isenberg sent the coins to be authenticated and learned they were actually 1,000 years old. Five of the coins came from the once-important trading hub of Kilwa Sultanate in Tanzania, which is now in ruins and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Researchers hope to discover how the coins ended up in the sand, and are optimistic that they can provide more details about ancient trading routes and earlier visitors to Australia.
9. Danish teen finds Viking hoard
Sixteen-year-old Michael Stokbro Larsen found 365 items from the Viking era, including 60 rare coins, with a metal detector in a field in northern Denmark. The coins, which have a distinctive cross motif attributed to the Norse king who brought Christianity to Denmark, are the largest single-site Viking find since 1939.
10. Gold coin sells for $2.75 million
The 1880 $4 Coiled Hair Stella has long been one of the coin collecting world's greatest treasures. The gold coin was designed by revered United States Mint engraver George T. Morgan in an attempt to launch an international currency to make trade with Europe easier. Congress rejected the idea, but a handful of the coins were produced. Experts estimate only 10-15 were ever struck, and the one that sold for $2.75 million is considered the finest specimen ever sold at auction.
Do you have a favorite coin or coin-collecting story from 2013 you'd like to share with us? Do you have your own gold story from 2013? Maybe you want to buy - or sell - some gold? Come see the experts at West Seattle Coins and Bellevue Rare Coins in West Seattle, Bellevue and Lynnwood.
West Seattle Coins and Bellevue Rare Coins specialize in gold buying and dealing in rare coins. We are a family-owned business that was first established in 1979 and is now located in West Seattle, Bellevue and Lynnwood. We also buy and sell gold, silver, diamonds, currency and jewelry. Visit us first for a free evaluation.
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