Archive for the ‘Coins’ Category

Random notes: August 14, 2013.

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Ford stopped making the police variant of the Crown Victoria in 2011. We’re now in 2013, and police departments are starting to retire the last of the Crown Vics.

Law enforcement is a practical, left-brain business of protocol and procedure. But a discussion of the Crown Vic brings out a romantic side. The traditions and symbols of life behind the badge become intertwined with its tools. Two tons of rear-wheel drive and a V-8 engine up front made for a machine that could feel safe at any speed, a reliable nonhuman partner when things got crazy.

I have flirted from time to time with the idea of purchasing a former cop car as a backup vehicle. (“It’s got a cop motor, a 440 cubic inch plant, it’s got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks.”) Problem is, the state surplus store wants nearly $6K for used DPS cars; at that price, I could go get a used Miata or Outback instead.

The 1933 double eagle is on display at the New York Historical Society. I’ve written previously about the strange history of the 1933 double eagle, and the linked NYT article contains a good summary, too.

If you have nothing to hide, why do you object to being stopped and frisked by the police being recorded by a camera?

Yet another reason why Rosemary Lehmberg should resign.

The (Double) Eagle has flown the coop.

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

We previously noted the strange legal saga involving the Federal Government and ten 1933 $20 U.S. gold coins.

(Since that time, we have also read Alison Frankel’s Double Eagle: The Epic Story of the World’s Most Valuable Coin and we think it is a better book than David Tripp’s Illegal Tender: Gold, Greed, and the Mystery of the Lost 1933 Double Eagle. But we digress.)

By way of FARK, we have now learned that a Philadelphia jury has found in favor of the Government. Here’s coverage from the WSJ Law Blog, and here’s coverage from the Inky.

As we noted at the time, this seemed like a case that couldn’t be won, given the events of 2002 and the attendant publicity. We are not displeased to see our prediction come true, though we will be sad if the Treasury ends up destroying the coins. At the same time, though, we suspect this is not the end of the story, and that this case will probably end up in front of Dianna Ross and the Supremes. Watch this space for updates.

Edited to add: We wish we had thought of this sooner. Here’s the story from “Coin World”, which appears to have been covering the trial in detail judging from the other links.

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#3 in a series)

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Dereu and Sons Manufacturing Company (aka

Back many thousands of years ago, my elementary school library was full of books like F. B. I. The “G-Men’s” Weapons and Tactics for Combatting Crime and other non-fiction children’s books about the heroic exploits of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (Remember, these were elementary school libraries, and this was before Hoover’s death; they didn’t have books like The FBI Nobody Knows. And I wasn’t reading Rex Stout at that time, so I didn’t enough to be able to seek it out elsewhere.)

Anyway, one of my favorite stories was the one about Rudolph Abel and the newsboy. Not because I had any real investment in catching Russian spies, but because I thought a hollow nickel was incredibly cool, and I wanted one badly.

Flash-foward mumble mumble years to DEFCON 17. What do I find at one of the vendor tables? Yes! Hollow nickels!

Since I was older and more mature, though, a few thoughts came to me. One was that I didn’t have a whole lot of cash on me at the time, and using an ATM at DEFCON…might as well go ahead and pull on the Bad Idea Jeans. Another thought was that a hollow nickel might be cool, but what are the chances I wouldn’t end up spending it by accident?

So I took some notes, surfed the web, waited until I got home and someone had a birthday, and then placed an order…


Under the Double Eagle.

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

The NYT offers up an update in the case of ten 1933 $20 gold pieces confiscated by the U.S. Mint; in brief, the government has been ordered either to give the coins back, or provide proof the coins were stolen.

I’ve been interested in these coins since reading David Tripp’s book Illegal Tender. The short version of this story is that the 1933 $20 gold piece was never officially issued; FDR took the country off the gold standard after the coins were produced, but (supposedly) before the U.S. Mint distributed any of them. Some of these coins made it out to the public, but the government claimed they were stolen property and, until 2002, confiscated and destroyed all of the ones that turned up. For complicated reasons (outlined in Tripp’s book) the government allowed the sale of one coin at auction in 2002 for $7.6 million.

Tripp’s book makes it very clear (in my opinion) that the government believed all of these coins that made it out of the Mint were stolen property, that the government was allowing the 2002 sale as a one-off deal, and that any future coins that showed up would also be confiscated and destroyed.  I find it very difficult to believe that Mr. Langbord and his family were not aware of this, and I have a lot of trouble siding with them.

(As a side note, I haven’t read Alison Frankel’s Double Eagle, though I very much want to. Tripp’s book is okay, but I think it suffers some from his lack of experience in writing long form narrative.)