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Thursday, April 30, 2015

What's the difference between a "pattern" and a medal?

 Patterns are coins that are not officially released into general circulation.  They can be proposed designs for coinage, prototypes for coinage, commemorative pieces for collectors, off metal strikes, or experimental strikes.

Medals are commemorative pieces: for monarchs, for heroes, for important events, for collectors.  "Medallic Strikes" are aligned on the obverse and reverse - though so are many coins - most Canadian Coins for example.

Some medals also serve as prototypes for coinage such as the medal used to commemorate the opening of the Calcutta mint, the obverse of which became the design for the original British Indian Mohars (below):

british india medals

Despite the fact that there are only 12 specimens of this prototype ever minted, and far fewer extant, it sells for a tiny fraction of the plentiful general circulation coins coins that are based on it.  What's odd is that many of these coins, are "Restrikes" struck only for collectors at later dates in "Proof condition."  And many "Retrikes are also off-metal strikes.  But as long as they're not called medals, they can command fantastic prices.

What's the difference between a "Restrike" an "Off metal strike" and a "Medallic strike?"


But if it has been termed a Medal rather than a Pattern or a Restrike it is sure to be a bargain.

If the medal above were called a Pattern, it would have to sell at north of a million dollars to accommodate the rarity and importance.

 Estimate: 25'000 GBP

This lovely "broad: of Oliver Cromwell is one of 6 currently at auction between Spink, St James, and Baldwins.  Weighing 12 grams, with a portrait by T Simon, and in MS condition this is expected to bring about $50,000.  The "patterns" of this coin, bring even more, such as the one below that brought $75,000 all in last year.


There are 25 "pattern" broads of Cromwell in Coin Archives.

There are 3 Cromwell Death medals in coin archives.  The Death Medal also has a portrait by T Simon, though of somewhat finer execution, a far more interesting allegorical reverse, and is larger:  16 grams as opposed to 12 grams.  It is many times rarer.

Despite the superior design, execution, size and despite being far rarer, the Death Medal, sells for about 1/10th of the Pattern broad.  Could it be called a Pattern Death Broad?  Why not?  Let's call it that and value it at $200,000.

Does this sound arbitrary?  Yes, exactly my point.

There are many "Patterns" which appear to be prototypes yet for which there are no coins.  Sometimes they are refferred to as "Pattern or Medal."  such as the piece in the current Spink auction below:

Charles I (1625-49), pattern Halfcrown or medal by Nicholas Briot, 14.88g, 1628, o rex. da. facilem. cvrsvm, diamond stops both sides, king, crowned and in armour, on horseback right, sword over right shoulder, grass ground line below, signed .n. briot. f. in exergue, toothed outer border and beaded inner border both sides, rev. atqve - avdacibvs - annve - coeptis., crowned, oval, garnished shield dividing 16-28 (Brooker SCBI 33, 1258; Bull 497; MI i, 252/32; N.2673
 and footnote), a beautifully struck example, some adjustment marks on reverse, extremely fine, very rare.

The truth is, the designations are all somewhat arbitrary for "coinage" that was never meant for general circulation.  And ultimately it is left to the whims of cataloguers, archivers, and shrewd salesmen.

The fact is that rare historically important specimens is just that: rare historically important specimens - whether you cal them "patterns", "essais,"  "restrikes,"  "off metal strikes" or "medals."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The “War on Cash” Migrates to Switzerland


Banks Increasingly Refuse Cash Withdrawals – Switzerland Joins the Fun

The war on cash is proliferating globally. It appears that the private members of the world’s banking cartels are increasingly joining the fun, even if it means trampling on the rights of their customers.

Yesterday we came across an article at Zerohedge, in which Dr. Salerno of the Mises Institute notes that JP Morgan Chase has apparently joined the “war on cash”, by “restricting the use of cash in selected markets, restricting borrowers from making cash payments on credit cards, mortgages, equity lines and auto loans, as well as prohibiting storage of cash in safe deposit boxes”.

This reminded us immediately that we have just come across another small article in the local European press (courtesy of Dan Popescu), in which a Swiss pension fund manager discusses his plight with the SNB’s bizarre negative interest rate policy. In Switzerland this policy has long ago led to negative deposit rates at the commercial banks as well. The difference to other jurisdictions is however that negative interest rates have become so pronounced, that it is by now worth it to simply withdraw one’s cash and put it into an insured vault.

Having realized this, said pension fund manager, after calculating that he would save at least 25,000 CHF per year on every CHF 10 m. deposit by putting the cash into a vault, told his bank that he was about to make a rather big withdrawal very soon. After all, as a pension fund manager he has a fiduciary duty to his clients, and if he can save money based on a technicality, he has to do it.

A Legally Murky Situation – but Collectivism Wins Out

What happened next is truly stunning. Surely everybody is aware that Switzerland regularly makes it to the top three on the list of countries with the highest degree of economic freedom. At the same time, it has a central bank whose board members are wedded to Keynesian nostrums similar to those of other central banks. This is no wonder, as nowadays, economists are trained in an academic environment that is dripping with the most vicious statism imaginable. As a result, withdrawing one’s cash is evidently regarded as “interference with the SNB’s monetary policy goals”. Thus SRF reports:

“Since the national bank has introduced negative interest rates, pension funds in the country are in trouble. Banks are passing the negative rates on to them. This results in the saved pension money shrinking, instead of producing a return. A number of pension funds are therefore thinking about keeping their money in an external vault instead of leaving it in bank accounts.
One fund manager showed that for every CHF 10 m. in pension money, his fund would save CHF 25,000 – in spite of the costs involved in vault rent, cash transportation and other expenses.
However, as our research team has found out, there is one bank that refuses to pay out money in such large amounts. The editorial team has gotten hold of a letter from a large Swiss bank in which it tells its customer, a pension fund:
“We are sorry, that within the time period specified, no solution corresponding to your expectations could be found.
Bank expert Hans Geiger says that this “is most definitely not legal”. The pension fund has a sight account, and has the contractual right to dispose of its money on demand.

Indeed, although we all know that fractionally reserved banks literally don’t have the money their customers hold in demand deposits, the contract states clearly that customers may withdraw their funds at any time on demand. The maturity of sight deposits is precisely zero.

So how come the unnamed “large bank” (they should have named it, just to see what happens…) is so bold as to break the law by refusing to pay out funds in a demand deposit? Note here that it is indeed breaking the law, as there is nothing in Swiss legislation that states that banks are allowed to refuse or delay servicing withdrawals from demand deposits upon request.

The answer is that it has probably received a “directive” from the Swiss National Bank. Note here that these directives are not legally binding. SFR further:

“The president of the pension funds association ASIP, Hanspeter Konrad, has been irritated for weeks that pension funds are suffering from negative interest rates. He says: “We simply cannot understand that the banks are butting in here”. Konrad suspects that the National Bank is exerting its influence.
Indeed, the SNB confirms that it doesn’t like to see the hoarding of cash to circumvent its negative interest rate policy. “The National Bank has therefore recommended to the banks to approach withdrawal demands in a restrictive manner.”
Hans Giger, professor eremitus at the University of Zurich, says to this that the question how far the SNB can go is legally complicated. While the SNB is not allowed to influence the contract between a bank and a pension fund, it can however “issue directives to the banks in the collective interest of the Swiss economy”. What banks do with the SNB’s directives is however up to them.

In other words, large depositors in Swiss banks have now become victims of collectivism. Collectivism is of course precisely what informs all central planning endeavors. Obviously, property rights count for nothing if the central planners can revoke them at the drop of a hat.


It is undoubtedly a huge red flag when in one of the countries considered to be a member of the “highest economic freedom in the world” club, commercial banks are suddenly refusing their customers access to their cash. This money doesn’t belong to the banks, and it doesn’t belong to the central bank either.
If this can happen in prosperous Switzerland, based on some nebulous notion of the “collective good”, which its unelected central planners can arbitrarily determine and base decisions upon, it can probably happen anywhere. Consider yourself warned. As the modern day fiat money system inevitably cruises toward its final denouement, individual rights will come increasingly under attack as the world’s ruling elites and centrally directed banking cartels begin to batten down the hatches.

Better continue stacking, and keep a pile of this within grabbing distance – after all, it can be purchased at a generous discount these days:


Friday, April 24, 2015

The Band Wagon

This famous Una and the Lion British medal minted a year after Victoria's coronation to commemorate the coronation is currently available at the upcoming Hess Divo and Spink auctions.  Both medals are estimated at about $100,000.

It is certainly beautiful.  But for a medal, not all that rare.  With a mintage north of 400 pieces almost all 400 are accounted for and almost all in Mint State and they  turn up at auction about a dozen times a year at least.  All dozen are likely to bring much more than $100,000.  In fact, one went for $250,000 last year.

Why so much for a medal?  Well, this medal was able to get itself rebranded as a "pattern."

And, as it became more and more expensive, more and more collector/investors have become interested.

Compare this to the real Victoria Coronation Medal:

This medal in MS 62 went for $10,000 last year at Heritage Auctions.  The official mintage is 1360 pieces.  Three times the official mintage of the Una and the Lion.  Yet the gold coronation medal turns up at auction maybe once or twice a year in Mint State condition.  Some years none turn up at all.  In the current market it is far rarer than Una and the Lion, and with a much more elegant high relief portrait of Victoria engraved by famed Italian artist Benedetto Pistrucci.

Pistrucci and Wyon, who engraved Una,  competed for the most prestigious assignments at the Royal mint.  Pistrucci was generally considered the more elegant engraver, but because of his Italian descent and his stormy temperament, he never became chief engraver.

Also,take into account that while the Coronation Medal was distributed to VIP guests at the Coronation ceremony. the Una piece as strictly an item of commerce.  To quote from the Royal Mint: "They were primarily made for inclusion in the specimen sets of the first Victorian coins. These sets, dated 1839, were finally ready for distribution to collectors in 1843, but the Una in fact continued to be struck (for collectors) on occasion long after the sets had been completed."

Over time which would you rather invest in?  Especially at these current prices.

Now compare both of these to a much earlier Medal, the George I coronation medal:

This medal also boasts a beautiful portrait engraved by John Croker, under the direction of (and possibly designed by) none other than Isaac Newton.  The mintage was 330 pieces, all of which were distributed to VIP guests at the coronation ceremony. 

Newly discovered documents in the Royal Library reveal how extensively Sir Isaac Newton, as Mint Master, was involved in the design of the royal medals.  As one of the  leading intellects in world history, his medal must be considered to be amongst the  most fascinating and important artifacts of his (or any) era.

Whereas the original mintage is only a hundred pieces smaller than that of Una, you'd be lucky to see one at auction every three or four years.  A very tough, historically important gold medal.  And in MS 61 condition you may have to pay as little as $6000.  

Could you imagine the cost of a gold coin with a similar mintage, size, and pedigree and market rarity?  In most respects it is far more interesting and historically important than the Una and the Lion medal/coin.

Call it a pattern, if it makes you feel better, and helps you to get off the band wagon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

More reasons why hard assets are becoming wealth:

War On Cash Intensifies: JPMorgan Chase To Prohibit The Storage Of Cash In Safety Deposit Boxes

April 22nd, 2015

cash Some JPMorgan Chase customers are receiving letters informing them that the bank will no longer allow cash to be stored in safety deposit boxes.

The content of a post over on the Collectors Universe message board suggests that we may be about to see a resurgence of the old fashioned method of stuffing bank notes under the mattress.

More capital controls as France declares war… on cash

France-capital-controls March 24, 2015

French paper Le Parisien didn’t mince words in the headline: “La chasse au cash est lancee”. Basically ‘hunting season on cash is launched’.

Under the auspices of fighting terrorism, France’s Minister of Finance, Monsieur Michel Sapin, has rolled out a series of eight new restrictions aimed specifically at minimizing the use of cash.

Among the new restrictions is a prohibition of making more than 1,000 euros in cash payments (down from 3,000 before).

Large cash withdrawls exceeding 10,000 euros per month will also now be monitored and reported to the French authorities.

HSBC imposes restrictions on large cash withdrawals

HSBC customers requiring large cash withdrawals may be asked what they want the money for
Some HSBC customers have been prevented from withdrawing large amounts of cash because they could not provide evidence of why they wanted it, the BBC has learnt. 

Feds Urge Banks to Call Cops on Customers Who Withdraw $5,000 or More

War on cash intensifies
Feds Urge Banks to Call Cops on Customers Who Withdraw $5,000 or More
Image Credits: Todd Kravos via Flickr.

The Justice Department is ordering bank employees to consider calling the cops on customers who withdraw $5,000 dollars or more, a chilling example of how the war on cash is intensifying.

Louisiana Makes It Illegal To Use Cash To Buy Used Goods

 Louisiana businesses are suddenly discovering a new law that flew under the radar during the last legislative session:
Cold hard cash. It’s good everywhere you go, right? You can use it to pay for anything.
But that’s not the case here in Louisiana now. It’s a law that was passed during this year’s busy legislative session.
House bill 195 basically says those who buy and sell second hand goods cannot use cash to make those transactions, and it flew so far under the radar most businesses don’t even know about it.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Gold: behaving exactly as it ought

Image result for GOLD

The fact that gold has held $1200 (roughly) as the dollar index rallied from 87 to 100 has many commentators scratching their heads.  At the same time. they wonder, gold has not mounted any sort of a rally either.  What's going on?

Well, gold is not going to rally right now because the dollar index is going to go a lot higher.


Not because the US is so strong.  In fact, even with the myriad computational machinations of the various US bureaus of Statistics, the US economy as barely "growing" at sub 2 percent  6 years into a supposed "recovery."

Nobody really believes in this recovery.  But many are paid handsomely to support this myth in order to hopefully pry loose all those "retail dollars sitting on the sidelines," so they do.

But the Euro is falling apart.  It's not jut Greece.  Spain, Portugal, Italy and France are not far behind.  And the yen is dead currency walking.

So the dollar has to rally.  And while it does, Gold will continue to tread water.


Because gold is a measure of Financial Stability and nobody really believes in the recovery story.

Yet people are still hoping.  Hoping against hope.

But when the US economy goes so demonstrably negative in growth that not even statistical magic can produce a plus one tenth of one percent number, people will lose hope.

And then gold will rally.

How high?

Very high.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Greece prepares for debt default if talks with creditors fail

by Kerin Hope & Tony Barber

Financial Times

April 13, 2015

Greece is preparing to take the dramatic step of declaring a debt default unless it can reach a deal with its international creditors by the end of April, according to people briefed on the radical leftist government’s thinking.

The government, which is rapidly running out of funds to pay public sector salaries and state pensions, has decided to withhold €2.5bn of payments due to the International Monetary Fund in May and June if no agreement is struck, they said.

“We have come to the end of the road . . . If the Europeans won’t release bailout cash, there is no alternative [to a default],” one government official said.

A Greek default would represent an unprecedented shock to Europe’s 16-year-old monetary union only five years after Greece received the first of two EU-IMF bailouts that amounted to a combined €245bn.

The warning of an imminent default could be a negotiating tactic, reflecting the government’s aim of extracting the easiest possible conditions from Greece’s creditors, but it nevertheless underlined the reality of fast-emptying state coffers.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Beware "They"

"They" have become the staple of most every American commentator from pundits to self styled Messiahs.

"They" are dense, hate-filled, jealous, greedy, plagiaristic, lying, power hungry, traitors.

"They" can be conservatives, liberals, rinos, feminazis, ideologues, the paper pushers, Big Oil,  Big Wall Street, the gold promoters, banksters, lawyers, mulsims, jews, ivy leaguers, academics, career politicians, community organizers, Mexicans, Arabs, Israelis, Big Pharma, the military industrial complex, frackers, socialists, the liberal media, the vast right wing conspiracy, the war on women, the war on Christmas, the gays, the extremists, the evil doers, the freedom haters, the welfare parasites, the lame stream media, the one percent, the 99 percent, sheeple.

"They" have many epithets, but They are always those who disagree with You.

In their disagreement "They" are stupid, uncreative, unproductive, self interested, power mad, uneducated, over-educated, ungrounded, stuck in the mud, blind, undiscerning, indiscriminate, prejudiced, fascist, communist, traitorous, Statist, morons.

"Their" great virtue, is that the mere existence of "They" means you never have to defend your point of view, because "They" are too pig headed to entertain views different from their own, so why bother?

You're so obviously right about everything, and "They" will never admit it.  So no need to defend your views calmly and logically.  If there's one thing They can't tolerate it's calm logical defense of your views.

So save your breath.

All the geniuses of the world, the creative, brilliant, outside-the-box thinkers already agree with you.  So why waste your time convincing "They."

"They'll? get their comeuppance.  Believe you me.

They'll all be Royally Screwed when the shit hits the fan.

Then They'll be sorry They didn't listen to You.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


During a crash everything gets sold.  It's a buyer's market.  Only there tend to be very few buyers, because everyone is in need of liquidity in order to purchase necessities. 

Yet if the currency itself is being sold, where does liquidity lie?

And what, if anything, will retain value?

There have always been two fundamental components to Value:

A) UseValue: food, water, shelter, guns, energy etc -

B) Historical Intrinsic Value (which Marx called Fetish Value) Artifacts, Artwork, Historical Documents, Gold bullion, Golden Objects, Jewlery, Gems and Real Estate.

Now, there's no sense in examining Use Value unless you're a hard cor Prepper, preparing for the End of the World.  Obviously you need a common sense stock of stuff for your house or apartment that serves for a bridge during interruptions of services.  But This is about preservation of Wealth, not of Life and Limb.

For Preservation of Wealth, you need items of Historical intrinsic value.  These items will have three basic components:

A) Liquidity.

B) Transportability

C) Visibility

The most liquid item will obviously by gold and silver bullion coins from recognizable mints.  These can be traded in any major city in the world for any other local form of currency, as well as for certain goods and services.  This is so now.  This has been so for Five Thousand Years of recorded history.  This will be so during any crash.
Image result for Gold coin
At the same time, this item is very heavy and easily detected in transport.  Your wealth here can be preserved, but it is somewhat anchored to a location. 

It is also highly Visible, meaning everyone knows what it is and what it looks like, and thus Everyone will be looking for it.

At the other end of the spectrum you have Historically Important Art and Artifacts which can be very difficult to recognize for your common thief, and can have varying degrees of transportability but are relatively illiquid.
Image result for old master artImage result for greek sculptureImage result for Gold artifact

To sell such an object you must know where and who the buyers are.  And you must be able to get the object to the buyers.  But if you know how to do this these objects can preserve tremendous wealth if often very small portable, durable, packages.

For example, an historically important object like certain Ancient Coins, might be worth a million dollars and can be stored in a small plastic flip inside your wallet.  They can be sold to any major dealer in most major cities of the US and Europe, for example. But if you don't know the dealers, you might have a tough time indeed. result for Greek gold coin

If you are not concerned with the liquidity but only in riding out the crisis with a preserved wealth, these objects can also be extremely valuable.

The key is to know your markets extremely well and only invest in those markets you know.  Because every single market is manipulated in some way.  Diamonds, for example, are heavily manipulated by a very few very large companies.  What you feel may be rare, may not be so rare, unless you have inside information. 
 Image result for Diamond
The same is true in  Post Modern Art.  How valuable is your Warhol in a crisis when 100,000 other sellers with substantially similar objects are all trying to liquidate at the same time?  How many are being held back off the market by dealers who also may need to liquidate during a crisis?

Image result for warhol
These markets are all very tricky.  Pick one.  Learn it.  Love it.  It may be the only thing to preserve your wealth during the next crisis.