A Coin Collector’s Desk


Today’ s post combines two favourite occupations….thinking up still life subjects and coin collecting. So this is my first experimentation with The Coin Collector’s Desk. Much of the imagery includes the much cherished and desired remnant of America’s Wild Wild West, the Morgan Silver Dollar minted from the famous Comstock Lode silver discovered in 1859 in Nevada. I still find it hard to believe that people actually carried the splendid, lustrous 0.77344 troy oz pieces of silver in their pockets and didn’t marvel at the beauty of it. No, the coin was very unpopular in its own time which has contributed to some degree to the number of mint state examples which do remain in the numismatic marketplace. Even the gorgeous original mint silvery highlight which circles the coin as you twirl it in the light often called a cartwheel led to the derisive reference to the coins as just being a cartwheel or as heavy as one. As contrary as human nature is, not just due to the increased value of silver, these particular coins are eagerly sought after today by collectors with passionate enthusiasm. Whether you like them raw with visions of who may have held them in 1878 or tossed them onto a poker table in some dusty saloon back when they were introduced or safely encapsulated in graded slabs, they are each and every one of them a bit of history in your hand.

Ok, I went off on the Morgans. Besides the Morgan Dollars you will see an example an 1877 Trade Dollar, Seated Liberty Quarter from 1853, an Eisenhower Dollar and a Kennedy Half. I’ve shown folded up GreySheets…the bible of pricing for me pretty much along with magnifiers for examining the coin surfaces. The open Morgan Book is by Alan Hager who was one of the first in about 1984, if not the first, to come up with a system for grading Mint State coins called Accugrade , with way to rate them depending on the quality of their surfaces, hard or soft strike, luster and brilliance, year, mint and remaining examples existing in the year or grade. His book on Morgans is very interesting and thorough and I think is a bit of a collectible in of itself.

I hope you enjoy the effort and maybe even the majesty of these silver coins and a time when people had actual precious metal in their pockets for everyday purchases, when money was real.

On the still life side I tend to think that if you take the picture looking down at you assembly of items, that it looks more commercial like an ad for something. When the image is more straight on with the camera at desk level as if your work was waiting for you to sit down and do it, then I think perhaps the result is more painterly or artistic. I am still working these things for what is the most ideal for a viewer to enjoy. These scenes were at a desk with morning ambient light from the window.






This is the only foreign coin pictured in this group. It is a Ceylon 5 Rupee coin made of .925 percent of silver. The front of coin (not pictured) has a Buddha temple on it and the reverse has the number 2500 in the center commemorating 2500 years of Buddhism and is encircled by rings of floral and zoological symbols. Quite lovely really. The silver coin was issued under Queen Elizabeth II in 1957 when Ceylon was a British Commonwealth Nation. Sri Lanka’s identity was not until 1972. Its original mintage was 500,000 but 258,000 were returned to the mint for melting in 1962.

This image is an 1889 Pennsylvania mint example of the Morgan Dollar. It is placed for photography on brass box with a pretty, exotic design which contrasts nicely with the silver coin. I did use my 100mm macro lens for some of the coins close ups and thought the results were very detailed of the surface values of the coin.


I’d planned more of a list of history references for the Morgan Dollar as it is wonderfully interesting but my computer and WordPress are not playing nicely this evening with linkages. So below find two url locations for some history and grading insights:

A bit of Morgan History:


How to Grade Morgan Dollars:


~ by Judy on November 17, 2017.

10 Responses to “A Coin Collector’s Desk”

  1. I’ve always had a thing for the Trade Dollar, despite its poor reputation. Like the Morgan Dollar, it’s a dignified design, in its own way striking. Pity it didn’t wear well.

    Oh, and you might explain “mint state” for the non-collectors. Yes, it’s obvious and no, it ain’t.

    • I also like the trade dollar and find the engraving very elegant and understated. I don’t have one yet but will probably get a few examples for the continuity.

      Good thought on explaining mint state a bit. Once I get to a computer where I can get the linkages to work, not sure what is wrong here but I’ve rebooted already, well then I will label links for the interesting history articles and for mint state (brilliant uncirculated) grading. Might help. Tomorrow.

  2. I wish I could share your interest in coins; I feel bad that I don’t. But then we can’t all be the same. Regardless of my interest in coinage, these still-lifes have the wow!-factor for me. And so much better . . . striking, alive . . . for being on black & white.

    • Well, maybe it is that ring you get when you flip a real silver coin into the air with a flip of your thumb. As you know I am hearing new or old things again, and the other day my father and I were examining some old coins not in 2 x 2’s and he did that to one and it sang as it rose through the air and he just said, that’s silver. Kinda like the old geezers who can sense a ‘blow coming’ without all the satellite views.

      So glad you thought the still life scenes worked in the lighting and as black and white images. I thought black and white or an old fashioned weathered sepia tone set the mood a bit with the old coins.

  3. I’m going to have to come back to “really” comment, because I keep getting lost in this post. My dad was a SERIOUS coin collector, and my earliest memories are of helping him sort pennies. I’m off with my camera just now, but I’ll be back!

    • Look forward to that….my Dad serious too….coins pictured here are his. I remember loving silver dollars as a kid and working on collecting pennies and looking for 1909vdb coins all the time. LOL!! I started up again late.

  4. Sometimes I regret selling my dad’s collection, but on the other hand, I kept some of the things that were an integral part of our fun together: his hand lens, the bag he used to go to the bank and get another hundred dollars’ worth of dimes, and so on. If I had anyone to pass such things on to, that would be a different story. But as it is, I kept just a few proof sets, and a couple of silver dollars.

    I’m out of the habit of checking every coin for its date and mint mark now, but that was a habit, too. I still remember my first collection — nickels, that went into one of those trifold blue cardboard holders. I do agree with you that the early coins were things of beauty. I used to get silver dollars for birthdays and Christmas, and they all stayed in a little beaded pouch that I kept in my mother’s cedar chest. Every now and then I’d take them out and look at them — such fun! And I love the way you’ve presented yours here.

    An oddity: I have several Liberian bracelets that were traditionally worn by girls coming out of the bush school. They’re silver, and twisted, and just beautiful. In the old days, they were made by melting down silver coins — mostly American, of course. I’m not getting rid of those!

    • Yeah I had been out of the habit completely myself. Wish I’d gotten in the habit sooner to at least check for 1964 and earlier real silver coins. Found a 1960 Dime the other day so its silver and worth .80 or so depending on where silver prices are. But, you have to go through a lot of coins to find any silver ones left circulating. Also found a real buffalo nickel in regular change. Wonder if some kid spent part of his granddad’s coin collection or something. How did that get into regular change?

      The silver Liberian bracelets do sound interesting…wonder if they are melted Morgans? Who knows? Do an image sometime they sound lovely.

  5. Love the blog! Keep it up and welcome to the CCC.

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