Monday, November 9, 2009

Coin (Glass) Monday: An Americana Detour

Nov. 9, 2009
Written by John Dale

Coin Monday has just made a temporary detour — don’t worry, though! I’ll be going back to the world of actual coins soon enough. (The December Houston U.S. Coin Auction catalog should be printing as this posts!).

There’s another auction of interest to numismatists that’s coming up even sooner, and it just can’t wait. Our November 2009 Grand Format Americana Auction has the Mike Follett Collection, which contains more than two dozen lots of glassware that should appeal to coin collectors and antique glass collectors alike. I’ll give you two guesses as to what it’s called…

Coin glass, in its original form, was manufactured for just five months, with pieces in the Mike Follett Collection dated to either 1892 or 1893. The Central Glass Company, which did business in Wheeling, West Virginia, began creating pieces of glassware that featured impressions of actual coins, such as Morgan dollars and Seated halves as well as smaller denominations and motifs from the Columbian half dollar, the nation’s first silver commemorative coin.

The coin glass sold well enough on novelty value that it came to the attention of the Treasury, which, predictably enough, was not particularly enthused about a private company replicating U.S. coinage. The Treasury claimed that the Central Glass Company’s method of manufacture was illegal, and the molds used to make the coin glass were destroyed. The Central Glass Company itself did not last much longer.

Though the manufacture of the original coin glass was short-lived, it remains well-appreciated today, both by collectors of antique glassware and numismatists. The Mike Follett Collection is itself proof of the latter; he was a widely known and well-liked professional numismatist who established his firm here in Dallas. He passed away early this year; our offering of his collection of coin glass is not merely an auction, but a way to honor him. Pick up a copy of the catalog, and just past the Dear Bidder letter, you’ll see what I mean.

Then, on the facing page, the Americana auction begins with fragments of $20 bills recovered from the ransom money paid to D.B. Cooper, the enigmatic hijacker who leapt from a plane in the American Northwest in 1971 and vanished into myth. We last offered bills from the D.B. Cooper ransom in June 2008; here are the results.

But that’s currency, not coins. Now I must walk back from the river, retrace my steps through the forest, and find my way home… (Just follow your carefully laid trail of Morgan Dollars, John Dale. You'll be home in time for supper, and none the worse for wear... - Noah Fleisher)

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-John Dale Beety

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