There really was a 1913 Liberty Nickel?

1913 was a big year for the United States Mint.  This was the year that the mint rolled out a new design that is called the Buffalo nickel.  This is also the year that 5 Liberty Head nickels were produced.

There were only five issues of the Liberty Head nickel.  All of the examples of the nickel are accounted for, so making a counterfeit is tougher.  Even though it is tougher, there are still some ways to make a counterfeit example of this coin (and there are plenty out there).

The first way a counterfeit coin can be made is called the lost wax method.  This type of method takes some wax and embeds one side of an authentic coin into it.  Once the coin is removed, an image of half of the coin is left behind.  This process is done for both sides.  Since all of the 1913 nickels are accounted for, the person creating the mold redoes the year portion on the mold to read 1913.  The two molds are put together and a hole is formed in the mold and molten metal is poured into the mold, creating a coin.  The wax is then taken off of the coin (or it could have melted away when the metal was poured in) and any excess metal is filed off and the coin is finished.

One way to tell this type of counterfeit is by looking at the edge of the coin.  There is a good possibility that there will be the remnants of a seam from the mold.  Also look at the date of the coin.  1903, 1910, or even 1908 Liberty Head nickels are very plentiful, and it would be easy to alter these dates.  Examine the coin for any possible date tampering.

Another way to counterfeit a coin is to create your own set of dies.  This method, if done right, can create some coins that can come very close to looking like the real deal.  Just like the lost wax method, a die will need to be made for each side of the coin.  The dies can either be heated up and a host coin is imbedded into it, or the dies can be engraved if the person is good enough.  The date is going to be harder to disguise, since the die is made of metal.

This method makes it tougher to tell if you have a fake or not.  One thing to look for is what’s called a “weak strike.”  When someone produces a coin from a pair of homemade dies, the images on the coin (like Miss Liberty) are more than likely going to be faded or missing in spots.  The areas to look at are the edges of the obverse and the reverse. So, if you run across a 1913 Liberty head nickel, be cautious.

What kinds of items have you run across that made you think twice about it?

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Broken Bank Notes From The 1800’s

This sounds like a plot from a book or even a movie, but this actually happened with the banking system.  During the early 1800’s, the banking system was not as safe as it is today.  The banks would go out of business almost as fast as they would open their doors for the first time.

When a bank opened, they were allowed by the United States Government through a charter to print their own paper money.  This was to help the country get the monetary system up and running.

But when a bank went out of business, the money that it produced became worthless.  With the country being on the gold and silver standard at the time (which means paper money could basically be traded in for silver or gold coins that equaled the face value of the paper money), it was impossible to take the  worthless money in to redeem it.

So how did businesses and other banks know that a bank had gone out of business?  The most common method was to check a list of out-of-business banks, which were also called “broken banks.”  The list was updated, but it did take time to get it out to everyone.  The main problem that people faced is that banks folded after the list was updated, leaving some businesses with worthless money in exchange for goods and services.

Because it was so problematic, the banking system stopped printing money—it became the job of the BEP (which is the Bureau Of Engraving And Printing).  This early form of printing paper money created two types of collectibles—“Broken Bank” Notes and Obsolete United States paper money!

Have you ever run across this type of paper money?

What are some tricks that produce great photographs of jewelry?

When it comes to selling jewelry, it is often said that a picture is one of the best-selling tools that you have.  What are some of the tricks that can you use to produce a fantastic photograph?

There will be times when you produce nothing but blurred, out-of-focus pics, or photos that show the item off-center.  A simple tripod will help you eliminate these problems.

I often use a mannequin arm to highlight the beauty of a bracelet or ring, and a bust or a necklace display.  Another option is to use a real-life model for the jewelry.  This could be your sister, brother, or even one of your children.  This type of display helps the buyer know what the jewelry could look like when they have it on before they purchase it.

Don’t be afraid to play with the settings on a camera.  We all know that digital cameras come with a macro setting.  Make sure to try the settings for night shots, fireworks, or even snow pictures as well.  You never know which setting will show off a piece’s best attributes!

Take a ton of pictures along the way.  Play with the angles of the photograph, and even use the flash of the camera.  You can even put a table lamp near the jewelry near the jewelry to help give the stones in the piece more of a sparkle affect.  What works for me is to use natural daylight.

I even play with the background as well.  If you have something that has a silver tone to it, a dark backdrop behind or underneath it really plays up the shine.  A piece of construction paper can be all the backdrop you need.

Another way that you can make those pictures “pop” is to take a piece of glass (this can be from a picture frame that you are not using anymore) and lay it on top of a piece of colored construction paper—the reflection of the jewelry can be picked up in the glass. There is a product called a light box, which can produce a “halo” effect around something like a pendant.  Instead of investing tons of money on this equipment, a flashlight can come very close to doing the same effect.

So what kinds of tricks do you use to take photos of jewelry?

DIY TIP: How do you wire a lamp?

You are walking through your favorite flea market or antique mall one day and you see a lamp that would look great in your house or apartment.  You start to look at it to see what kind of shape it’s in, and you notice the cord is frayed.  How do you change it so that you can use the lamp?

The first thing you need to find is a replacement cord.  A local home improvement store will more than likely have a replacement for you.

The next thing that you need to do is to disassemble the light socket so that you can get access to where the cord attaches.

When you get the main cover of the socket off, you will notice that the end of the cord that you are going to replace is held on by a couple of screws.  All you need to do is to unscrew the cord and slide the cord out at the base of the lamp.

A piece of advice: I would look at the socket before I did anything else.  I’ve seen sockets with rust, corrosion and damage to where it would be unsafe to turn the lamp on.  If there’s anything wrong with the socket, it’s a good idea to replace it now.  More often than not, you’ll get a replacement socket when you buy the cord.

Installation of the cord is just as easy as removing it.  The first step is to feed the cord through the lamp in the area where you removed the old one.  When you get the cord all the way through the lamp, leave yourself a little extra room so that you can attach the light socket.

When you purchase a new cord at a home improvement store, it will have the end of the cord already stripped for you so that you can reattach it without having to worry about stripping the wire.  After you get the new cord on, pull on the cord at the bottom of the lamp to remove all of the extra slack that you gave yourself.

After you take out the extra slack in the cord, all you have to do is to put the cover on the light socket.  If I were you, I would put a light bulb in it and plug it in to see if it works after I put the socket cover on.

When it works, you can put on the lamp shade and proudly display your latest find.  What kinds of finds have you run across that needed a little repair work like this?

What a great store display!

Occasionally, you will find something for sale that makes you stop for a second in amazement.  It could be just about anything—something like this ESCADA SENTIMENT store display.

ESCADA SENTIMENT By Escada is a men’s cologne that was first sold in 2002, and it was more commonly sold in department stores.

This store display bottle was found on the countertop of the fragrance department in department stores that sold the fragrance.  The bottle is a large glass bottle with a cranberry color, and it has a plastic lid and atomizer. Both the lid and atomizer are removable, and the store display has the same artistic / triangular shape as the normal bottle.

The store display is huge—it measures 14 ¾ inches tall including the lid and 5 inches at the base.

Since this was a store display, it was more than likely sat with similar display pieces to show off what the store was selling.

I love the shape of the bottle—it looks like it came out of the Art Deco era with the front having a triangular shape and the geometric shapes of the back.

This is one type of store display that you can find—what other types of displays have you run across?

Collecting Tip: Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Without a doubt, the fun of collecting is the hunt.  But don’t ever think that the hunt has to be relegated to thrift stores, antique shops, and auctions.  Sometimes, the hunt even comes to you.

Case in point: I was in high school when my local library retired its card catalog.  In conjunction with closing their catalog, the library offered patrons a giveaway: a free card signed by the author of the book.  The only catch was that you couldn’t request any specific author or book—it was the luck of the draw.

Not one to give up an opportunity for a collectible signature, I signed up.  And this is what I received:

I really did luck out with what I won—I’m a sports fan, and have always followed racing, so to get a card signed by Richard Petty was something of a thrill.

Now, what I have is a cross-collectible: I have a piece of sports memorabilia, a signed autograph from a celebrity, and a piece of library history (the card catalog has now gone the way of the dinosaur). 

Which just goes to show you: always keep your mind open, always be on the lookout.  You never know where you’re going to find those really cheap—or, in this case, absolutely free—pieces to add to your collection.

What about you?  Have you stumbled upon free goodies like this one?

The Little Half-Sister for United States coins

The nickname “Little Half-Sister” in the world of coin collecting is directly tied to the half cent coin produced by the United States mint. 

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.com

This coin first came about with the Coinage Act Of 1792 (this law established the United States mint and regulated the coinage of the United States).  The coin was produced from 1793 to 1857 and was made of 100 % copper (there were a few years along the way that a half cent was not produced).

There are no mint marks on any of the half cents that were ever produced, and this is because of the fact that they were made at the Philadelphia mint.

Although half cents were issued for more than 60 years, they remained one America’s unwanted coins. They proved to be of little use, and they were often kept in storage at the Mint.  Production of this coin (often stopped for a couple of years) was often interrupted by shortages of copper and lack of demand.  After a few years, the mint turned to English based companies to produce the planchet for the coin (the war of 1812 stopped this, and the US went back to producing the planchets for the coins).

This denomination would make a great conversation piece and would be a great way to help introduce people to coin collecting.

Have you run across one of these “little half-sisters” yet?

Need a Trime? That will be 3 cents!

The United States has produced some interesting coins, and the Three Cent piece is definitely one of them. 

The term “trimes” is widely used today as a nickname for these coins.  That nickname was first used by the mint director James Ross Snowden at the time of their production.

The United States started to produce this coin in 1851 as a result of the decrease in postage rates (which went from five cents to three).  The mint also started to offer this coin to answer the need for a small-denomination, easy-to-handle coin.  This coin was released in silver (the silver content was raised in 1854) to help encourage circulation.

Photo By Bobby131313 for wikimedia.com

Silver coins were hoarded in the early 1800’s–and when the Civil War erupted, silver coins were hoarded even more.  This led to the Three Cent piece getting hoarded as well.  Because of this, the United States mint would eventually print fractional currency (paper money with a face value of 3 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 15 cents, 25 cents, and 50 cents).

The composition was changed in 1865 to nickel.  The design of the coin was also changed when the composition was changed, so it’s easy to tell the nickel variety from the silver one.

Production of the trime began to taper off in the 1870’s, but mintage of the coin did not come to an end until a couple of years later in 1889.

Photo By Bobby131313 for wikimedia.com

Like with any coin, there are unlimited ways to collect this denomination.  Will it be just silver examples?  Nickel copies?  Certain years or die varieties?  It is completely up to you.

Have you run across one of these cool coins?

What are some of the colors that Fenton made that you can run across?

When Fenton was in business, there were literally a ton of colors that were made.  Apple green, French Opalescent, silver crest, cranberry and even green opalescent are a small sample of colors that were made.  Here are some more that you will run across:

Black Crest—this color also acts as the pattern of the piece.  Any piece with this coloring will have a milk glass base and black trim at either the rim or on the foot.

Photo courtesy of Replacements.com

Milk glass—this type of glass is completely white in color, and you can’t see through it.  Fenton introduced this in the early 1950s with the hobnail pattern, and it became their flagship pattern.

Custard Satin—this is light yellow in color and was given an acid wash to give it the satin finish.  The color was introduced in 1972 and this color can also be seen with a hand painted motif on it from time to time.

French Opalescent—this color has a crystal base with a white overlay on it, and the color was made from 1952 to 1968.

This is a very tiny portion of what you will see when you are out shopping.  What Fenton colors have you run across?

What are some of the parts and pieces of vintage furniture?

Slipper feet, veneer and leafs are a small selection of some of the parts of a piece of vintage furniture that you will run across when you are looking at furniture.  You never know what you might find when you are out at an auction, estate sale or even an antique mall.  Here are a couple of pieces that you may run across:

Top rail—this is the horizontal rail at the very top of a chair back.  There are as many designs of a top rail as there are designer.

This photo is courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Manchette—this is an upholstered arm that is found on a wooden-frame chair.  This portion of the arm will be upholstered with the same material that the seat has.

This photo is courtesy of Wikipedia.com

Stretcher—this is a horizontal support piece that is found on a table, chair or other item of furniture.  This piece ties vertical elements of the piece together.  A stretcher can be seen in the bottom of the photo:

This photo is courtesy of Wikipedia.com

This is only a small portion of what you will run across.  What have you seen?