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Unique Areas of Interest

A Link to Our Past

Whether ensconced in protective casing or held in the palm of your hand, who can not imagine the adventures surrounding a prized piece of coinage. Those who love coin collecting cherish more than mere gold and silver, they value the rich history, the symbolism, the artistry and all that adds value and meaning. Coins are a link to our past, with each representing a distinct period of time. As one of the leading U.S. coin dealers in the Nation, First Fidelity Reserve has a number of programs and special offers available to our Insider’s Advantage Clients, programs that provide added information, early viewings, reduced pricing and collections not available to the general public.


U.S. Morgan Silver Dollars


The Morgan Silver Dollar was named for its designer George T. Morgan, who emblazoned an "M" on both sides of the coin to lay his claim. If you are making a purchase this month or this year, consider the Key-date Morgan Silver Dollar, one of the rarest and most coveted US coins ever made. Minted from 1878 to 1921, they have become enormously popular, admired for their beauty and pristine condition.

These historically significant 19th century American coins are often found in mint condition because they were struck not for the purpose of general circulation but to guarantee a market for the silver mine owners. Throughout the century, silver mining companies held enormous power and influence, and were able to gain government support to protect there interests. The Bland-Allison Act was one such example, which required the Treasury Department to purchase $2 to $4 million worth of silver every month and mint it into dollar coins.

Over the years, silver became scarce. Melt downs of the silver dollar followed the Silver Act of 1942. Further meltdowns of Morgan dollars occurred in the 1960’s and ‘70’s as a result of rapidly rising silver prices. These meltdowns explain why some Morgan dollars with large million-piece mintages are so scarce. Some authorities estimate that only 17% of the Morgan Silver Dollars produced are in existence today.

If you are a First Fidelity Reserve Insider’s Advantage member, you can purchase certified, uncirculated Morgan Silver Dollars at our low member’s pricing. Plus, we always put aside hard-to-find, high-grade specimens expressly for our “Advantage” customers.

If you are interested in adding U.S. Morgan’s to your collection, call First Fidelity Reserve at 1-800-336-1630 and speak with one of our Account Representatives.

Not ready to buy? No problem! Call us and we'll send you a free copy of our Insider’s Advantage Program, which gives you the inside track on U.S. rare coin collecting and explains how you can enjoy special member pricing.


Lost Treasures


This is a tale involving fortunes lost to sea, heroic efforts and the unfortunate loss of lives. It began in 1857 when the elegant 280 foot side-wheel steamer S.S. Central America, sometimes called the Ship of Gold, traveled from Central America to the eastern coast of the United States. The ship was bound for New York carrying 476 passengers, 102 crew members and over three tons of gold dust, nuggets, coins and ingots from the California Gold Rush. However, the ship encountered a massive hurricane off the coast of the Carolinas and never made port.

Despite a heroic effort by passengers and crew, the ship went down and the treasure it carried remained lost for 131 years. The gold was valued at approximately $2 million, enough to shake public confidence and trigger one of the greatest economic catastrophes in U.S. maritime history—“The Panic of 1857.”

Several years later, in 1865, at the end of the U.S. Civil War, two additional ships containing significant cargoes of gold and silver coins were lost to storms: the S.S. Brother Jonathan off the coast of Northern California and the S.S. Republic on its way to New Orleans to aid in the Reconstruction of the South. These treasures were thought lost forever, along with the people onboard.

The story continues as we skip ahead 100 years to 1987, when new techniques and technologies took major roles in uncovering these lost treasures. Of course, it wasn’t that simple. Insurance companies everywhere filed suit, claiming that because they paid damages for the lost gold, they had the right to it. The battle over the gold lasted nearly a decade, but most, 92 percent, was awarded to the Columbus-America Discovery Group who recovered the treasure. The value was estimated at $100-150 million. Part of the treasures included a single gold ingot weighing 80 pounds, which sold for a record $8 million and is likely one of the most valuable piece of currency in the world.

First Fidelity Reserve has been an industry leader in acquiring and offering these historically significant recovered treasures. Prices range from less than $200 to several million dollars. Should you be looking to sell one of these unique treasures, we will always make an offer to buy. Call a First Fidelity Reserve Account Representative today to check on details and availability -- and ask for a free copy of our Shipwreck Treasure catalogue.

Note: To learn more about these treasures of gold, look for a book entitled America's Lost Treasure by Tommy Thompson.


Gold Rush Rarities


In a message to Congress in 1848, President James Polk stated that large quantities of gold had been found in California. It wasn’t long before Immigrants flocked to California bringing pans, shovels, and containers for gathering and processing gold. It was a long a strenuous journey, and many arrived without money, so they used gold dust, such as a "pinch" of dust as payment for a saloon libation or lodging.

This was a "gold dust" economy, but gold dust was not an ideal form of money. It was difficult to count and challenging to measure because of the varying purity of raw gold. Thus, enterprising individuals and companies began producing their own tender. Men who had backgrounds as jewelers and bankers set up shop in San Francisco and Sacramento assaying and coining gold for a fee. Private minters such as Kellogg & Co., Moffat & Co and F.D. Kohler, transformed raw gold ore, dust and nuggets into rectangular gold ingots or coins. To be successful, an assayer had to have a reputable and trustworthy reputation – thus begot the saying…"as good as gold."

As gold proliferated throughout the region, it quickly expanded to other economic centers of the nation. Small and large monetary ingots were stamped with the assayer's name and the weight, fineness and U.S. dollar value. Unfortunately, not all coins contained the stated fineness and weight as promised, and when word got out, the coins traded at a lesser value. People soon lost trust, not just in these firms but all firms, even honest ones.

In 1854 the United States government established the San Francisco branch mint to provide quality standards and instill trust in the production of legal tender coins. Many people brought in their privately minted gold coins so that they could be assayed and recoined into federal coinage. This massive melting of the earlier gold rush coins is a large part of why these privately minted gold pieces are so rare today.

First Fidelity is please to offer a variety of California Gold Rush numismatic coins. We also offer our latest Gold Rush Treasures catalogue. Simply give us a call and we'll send you’re a free catalogue -- no obligation required.


Money of The Bible


Due to primitive minting procedures, no two coins are exactly alike. Each coin was individually hand stamped by the coiner who took the coin’s production through all stages.

After heating and melting the silver, the coiner hammered it into a flat planchet, which was then heated to almost red hot temperature. Using bronze dies, the coiner then struck the top punch with a mallet to imprint the coins images.

Individual coins contain about 14 to 14.5 grams of mostly 95% pure silver. Because each coin was hand stamped, coin sizes and weights vary, but in general they usually measure from 20 to 28 mm in diameter.

The coin’s obverse features a laureate head of a beardless Melqarth facing right with a lion’s skin knotted around his neck. Melqarth was an iconic figure personifying Tyre’s prevailing local religion.

The coin’s reverse features an eagle standing on the beak of a ship carrying a single palm frond under wing. A club, which is the Tyre mint mark, fills the left field along with the date. The Greek legend adorning the coin translates as “Of Tyre, the holy and inviolable.”

For more information please visit First Fidelity Reserve's Money of The Bible