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Pierre_Henri

1931 Tickey

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Pierre_Henri

I have been overseas for two weeks and did not see this listing - incredible that they are still out there - It is almost beyond comprehension that this coin could have circulated for so long, with no one noticing its date - even in the later 1930s and 1940s it must have been known that the coin is an extreme rarity.

 

http://www.bidorbuy.co.za/item/200202328/Genuine_1931_South_African_3d_tickey_Very_Rare.html

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jwither

At R95,000, it isn't surprising that no one bought it. First, there is the possibility it is a fake though I don't see it in this condition. Second, I don't see this coin being worth this price, regardless of how few exist due to the price structure where circulated coins almost exclusively sell at low prices.

 

I do agree with you that the scarcity must have been known at the time, assuming the mintage date available today was available at the time. The 1950 Kaplan edition you gave me differs somewhat from the 1962 version I also have but only in distinguishing proofs from circulation strikes.. It still lists the total mintage at 128 (I believe). Either way, it's just another indication of the non-existent collector base at the time and many years after. In the 20th century, I am not aware that any circulation strike coin from anywhere with a lower mintage than this one. Only proofs, specimens and patterns.

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Cold Sea

Hi jwither, part of an article written in a local a while ago:

 

"Only 128 tickeys (three- pence pieces) were made in 1931 because it was amid the Great Depression and there wasnt a need for coins.

In addition, only 66 of them could have ended up in the ordinary mans pocket. The remaining 62 were minted as part of proof sets highly polished sets, which include all the coins struck that year.

Many of those in circulation, said numismatist and coin dealer Natalie Jaffe, were never found.

The last she recalls having been discovered was in 1952 by a milkman doing his rounds.

I once went through a jar of 18 000 tickeys, said Jaffe. There was not one 1931 tickey."

 

Somehow this coin has always caught the imagination, since the "ordinary tickey" was a such a popular coin. I think a premium will always be paid because of this, but it seems sentiment's also on a budget.

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jwither

Given the extremely low mintage, the likelihood of finding one even in 1931 would have been very low. The smallest US coin then and now is the dime or 10c piece. These are issued by the central bank to commercial banks in rolls of 50. If the tickey was distributed similarly, we are talking about ONE ROLL plus 16 extra coins. Potentially, the entire mintage could been sent to one bank branch meaning that anyone else looking for it elsewhere would have come up empty.

 

Even under the assumption that 1931 tickeys were distributed randomly in multiple date rolls (which is NOT the practice in the United States when a coin is first struck), the chances would still be remote. As in one in 5,000 to 10,000 if my recollection of the 1923-1930 mintage is correct. Still no reason to expect to find one.

 

And this is assuming someone tried to find it in 1931.

 

I believe the same concept applies to the other 1931 silver denominations as well as other low mintage dates such as the 1946-1950 1/-, 2/- and 2/6. In another topic, I mentioned the 1950 Kaplan guide Pierre gave me. The reason I wanted it was to check to see how much of a premium over face value these KGVI coins carried at the time. The last entry is for 1948. 1949 and 1950 are excluded. I don't have it with me but these coins were already selling at large premiums to face value only two to four years after they were struck when in theory, someone should have been able find them in circulation.

 

This tells me that even then they were hard to find, though I doubt many were looking for them. This isn't unusual either. In the United States, the 1931-S (San Francisco mint) one cent has a mintage of over half a million. To my knowledge, these were seldom (if ever) found in circulation either though in this instance, I recently read an account on the PCGS Message Boards that some dealer colluded with the US Mint to purchase all of them. But even if not true, out of the billions of cents in circulation at the time, still little reason to find them often, especially since many collectors were looking for this "key" date and it also carried a premium from day one. Today it is known to be as common as a grain of sand on the beach. Most of them presumably survive in UNC.

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Cold Sea

Although other silver denominations were just as, if not more scarce than the tickey, the coin's popularity in general made this an easy choice for the non collecting public to keep an eye out for in their pocket change. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the other scarce coins slipped through without being noticed. The value of the circulated tickey should by rights be more than the proof one, and I also find it amazing that a tickey as worn as this could even exist. I am sure when Natalie Jaffe sorted through all those tickeys, the value of the coin mattered less. Only a few of these coins are available in MS, which makes it even more special.

Edited by Cold Sea

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jwither

I don't believe 18,000 is that many to sort through and I wouldn't expect to find anything of significance, even if looking 50 years ago though I don't know when she performed her search. If someone had searched 18,000 2/6 in the early 1950's, they MIGHT have found a 1947, 1948 or 1949 but it is entirely possible they would have found zero. In this instance, it would have been a function of where the coins were distributed and if not uniformly, where the person performing the search happened to live.

 

To provide you with another example, the husband of one of mother's friends told me this story back in 1975, right after we returned to the United States. In the late 1950's, he searched through $50 of cent rolls every week for two years looking for Indian Head cents. At the time, either the Lincoln Wheat Back (up to 1958) and maybe the Lincoln Memorial reverse (if the search occurred in 1959) would have been struck by the US Mint and been used in circulation.

 

Assuming he actually searched every week, we are talking about 5000 coins per week or around 500,000 over two years. How many did he find? How about FOUR and they were almost certainly in grades of Fine or lower. Is this type scarce or rare? Not exactly, except "grade rare" or as a die variety though little variety collecting occurs with this series now and in the recent past and presumably almost not at all over 60 years ago.

 

In this instance, the reason he found so few is because there were hundreds of thousands or even millions of people also looking, as that is how most collectors pursued the hobby while a low or very percentage paid anything more than a nominal premium.. In this example with the 1931 tickey, there were far fewer people actively looking but this also needs to be considered in the context of the much lower mintage. The ratio of 1931 tickeys to tickeys generically was much lower than it was for the IHC versus the Lincoln around 1960. So while I have no idea how to calculate the relative odds between these two examples, its entirely possible that the likelihood of finding a 1931 tickey was lower or much lower than finding an IHC from a bank or in change.

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Pierre_Henri

Yes, I am also asking the same question as Cold Sea how on earth can a 1931 Tickey wear down to a VG of G grade after so many years of circulation without anyone noticing the date?

 

Take the Pipe & Hat Trench art ZAR coinage for example.

 

The Boers stop engraving them (at least 99% of them) when they returned from the prison camps in 1902/1903, so one can assume that they did not circulate after that but kept as keepsakes.

 

So these coins circulated only for a decade at most but those struck in 1896 and 1897 for only a very short period and only in the Transvaal and OFS (they were not excepted in the Cape Colony and Natal although we have metal detected Kruger coinage in Natal near the spot were Winston Churchill was captured but it could have been dropped by a labourer working in the Transvaal or Boer Soldiers)

 

Whatever, my point is that if one look at the Pipe & Hat Coinage and especially the later dates of 1896 & 1897, one could deduct how long it takes for a coin to wear down because you know with fairly certainly when that coin stopped to circulate.

 

If you look at Ray Leppans booklet on these Pipe & Hat pieces, how many do you see in G, VG and F condition? Hardly any some are VF but most are XF.

 

These coins circulated for 5 years at the very best and most I would say would grade XF40 or so. If they could have circulated for another 5 years they would probably go down to say VF20 and so on.

 

If that 1931 Tickey circulated right up to 1960, it would have been in circulation for say 30 years and in the condition one would expect it to be looking at its state of preservation. A second example in almost the same condition (graded G something) , was sold by Randcoin to I think Jan Kleynhaus a few years ago, so that coin must have also circulated right to the very end of the pre-decimal era.

 

How is it possible that no one noticed the coin in their change?

 

My 4 grandparents were born in 1888, 1889, 1903 and 1904 and thus adults in the 1930s and they all talked endlessly & excitedly about the scarcity of the 1931 Tickey. That generation knew it was scarce and valuable and was constantly checking their change.

 

I just cannot figure it out I wish someone would write a book on the 1931 silver coinage of South Africa it has intrigued me since way back when!

 

Pierre

Edited by Pierre_Henri

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Pierre_Henri

...........

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jwither
If that 1931 Tickey circulated right up to 1960, it would have been in circulation for say 30 years and in the condition one would expect it to be looking at its state of preservation. A second example in almost the same condition (graded G something) , was sold by Randcoin to I think Jan Kleynhaus a few years ago, so that coin must have also circulated right to the very end of the pre-decimal era.

 

How is it possible that no one noticed the coin in their change?

 

My 4 grandparents were born in 1888, 1889, 1903 and 1904 and thus adults in the 1930s and they all talked endlessly & excitedly about the scarcity of the 1931 Tickey. That generation knew it was scarce and valuable and was constantly checking their change.

 

Pierre

 

Were any of your grandparents collectors? The reason I ask is because even if they were, it should be apparent that what you described only applied to a tiny minority of the population. I don't believe that your grandparents' contemporaries or the next generation generally were generally aware of the 1931 tickey, the other 1931 silver or any other low mintage coins.

 

If this were not true, then the survival rates not only of the 1931 silver but of others such as the 1946-1950 1/-, 2/- and 2/6 should be much higher. The latter group of coins should have survival rates of at least 80% with the majority in AU or better, both because of the low mintage and their relatively short commercial life due to demonatization.

 

Instead, the most "common" of these dates (the 1948 2/-) has a current population count of 64 out of a mintage of 6773. All are mint state due to "positive selection bias" due to the value as expected. I also suspect that the actual number eligible for MS is probably about double this number but its still a very nominal percentage given its absolute scarcity and recent vintage. You would be in a better position to know this but I have not seen very many average to lower circulated coins of this issue. Contrary to what I consider "normal", I suspect (but do not actually know) that there are more circulated than MS around, but the total number of survivors is still probably less than 10%.

 

Given the premiums listed in the 1950 Kaplan guide which you gave me, its apparent a coin like this one was both not seen in circulation much when and after it was struck while concurrently not being saved by those who saw it. If it was regularly seen, then it's equally apparent that the general public had such a low awareness of its scarcity and value that they didn't save it anyway. Most of them were probably melted in the 1960's and during the 1979-1980 metals mania.

 

The distinction with the 1931 tickey is it was 100 times scarcer and presumably even fewer collectors were around to save it. Earlier, I mentioned a probability of 1/5000 to 1/10000. Looking at the tickey mintages, the apparent probability going by the mintage alone would have been from 1/100,000 in 1931 to presumably 1/1 million in 1960. The actual probability would have even been less because some would have been removed.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pierre_Henri

No, my grandparents were not collectors but if they knew about the scarcity of the 1931 Tickey then “everyone” knew. If you look at old SA newspaper and magazine clippings – you will see that the 1931 Tickey was a house hold name in those days.

 

I would presume on par with the 1909S V.D.B. Lincoln cent which launched a generation of USA coin collectors, although in terms of scarcity, there is no comparison.

 

If truth be told, I sometimes doubt if some of the 1931 silver dates were actually minted in non-proof condition – the 6d and 1/- obviously excluded. The few 3d, 2/- and 2/6 we sometimes see that comes up for sale might be proofs that got into circulation

 

We have asked the question over and over again on this forum – why would the mint strike 66 non proof Tickeys? To do what with them?

 

Look at this website for USA Scarce coins struck over the last 50 years.

 

http://www.pcgs.com/top100/details.aspx

 

Most of the coins are errors and if not are coins struck for collectors – almost none were struck for circulation purposes - - even the non-errors have a mintage figure of 2000 plus.

 

Maybe you would know if the USA has struck coins for circulation purposes with a mintage figure of less than a hundred? And if they did, why?

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jwither

You raise a good point about the accuracy of the 1931 silver mintage data. The 1950 Kaplan guide you gave me differs from the 1962 edition I also have which is consistent with the currently accepted data. After I received the 1950, I asked a question on this forum about these discrepancies which exist for the 1931 silver but also the 1923 and 1924 sovereigns. (The currently accepted mintage for the 1923 sovereign is 64 business strikes. In several lot descriptions, DNW, Baldwins or both use a figure of 406 from another source I do not recall. This 406 does not reconcile to any of the catalog data I have.)

 

My interpretation of the 1950 Kaplan guide data is that it infers that possibly no circulation strikes were issued. Under the circulation strikes it states "only specimens issued" which I interpret to mean proofs. The page with the "specimen" data lists 110 sets (not 62) with the balance single coins which for the 1931 tickey is listed as 18 to arrive at the 128 accepted today.

 

The difficulty with this interpretation is that I don't see the SA Mint striking 6500 1/- and 4800 6d as single proofs. To sell to whom? I certainly don't believe there were this many collectors in your country at the time and don't believe those in Britain would have wanted this many either.

 

On your question of whether the known circulated 1931 silver are actually proofs, I posed this question on the NGC Message Boards (generically) but don't recall if I posted the reply here. What I was told was it is possible to distinguish very low circulated proofs from business strikes with an accurate understanding of how the coins were struck. This isn't my area of specialty (whether for South African coins or otherwise) so I don't know the answer but some in your country (such as Alex) probably can do so and may already know the answer.

 

On your question of whether the US ever struck a circulation strike coin with a mintage of 66 or near it, my recollection is no, not for general circulation. There are a few with mintages about the same as the 1931 florin (383) and definitely some with less than the 2/6 (791) but all of them are 19th century gold coins, not silver or base metal. Thoise in the link you included are all either proofs, specimens or errors. I also agree with you that it seems pointless to strike 66 coins for commerce. I understand that the 1959 5/ was specifically struck at the request of collectors but never heard it for the 1931 silver, 1923 or 1924 sovereigns or these low mintage KGVI 1/, 2/- and 2/6.

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Pierre_Henri

There is a 1931 Half Crown graded AU50 graded by NGC. Now if there is one coin that I REALLY want to see, it is that coin.

 

At AU50 it should be possible to see if it is an ex proof or a non proof coin. I wonder who owns it?

 

Regarding Alex - he unfortunately disappeared and quite a few people would like to make contact with him

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