The ladies of Acacia Lyra play for our guests

Reflecting on our Open House

Most recently, we were humbled by our December 2nd “Coins & Strings” Open House, which – in spite of threatening winter weather on a Sunday – saw the largest turn-out we’ve had in 15 years of hosting our popular annual event.

Upwards of 100 customers, friends and colleagues joined us for some great traditional harp music (by Acacia Lyra), and took in our special displays of world-class Large Cents and a selection of Silver cigarette cases from my own personal collection.

Thanks to the support of many, we were also delighted to present the proceeds of our final “Penny Round-Up” in support of the Almonte General Hospital’s MRI equipment fund, with a total of $1,250 raised (or 125,000 Pennies!).

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Pennies for Refugees

I have written in the past how the cumulative power of the humble penny can accomplish not-so-humble feats, and put this into practice through the amassing of more than two tons of the coins during our two major Penny-Drives of the past several years.

Today, with the fading twilight of the One Cent coin nearly four years behind us, it is easy to dismiss the coin to the dustbins of history. Admittedly, they have effectively disappeared from circulation more completely than I would have anticipated for a coin that remains legal tender. This having been said, I’m not quite ready to throw in the towel on our “Penny Mountain” campaigns, and believe the old coppers have one last glory ride in them.

In our previous campaigns, we have been proud to support our local hospital here in Almonte, which provides outstanding care and compassion for both members of our community and the greater region. While I remain a firm supporter of the Almonte General Hospital/Fairview Manor Foundation, we are choosing to focus our humble new efforts on a monumental human crisis – one that although admittedly taking place a world away from us, none-the-less demands to be embraced and acted upon by anyone with a conscience, as more than just news headlines.

I am of course speaking here of the current Syrian Refugee Crisis – an unprecedented migration of individuals and families fleeing a hell-hole of political instability and war.

It is easy to ask, “how, as an individual, can I possibly help?”, when in reality, the more relevant question is, “how can I possibly not help in some small but sincere way?”

This is my own conviction, and also those of like-minded individuals who have formed the Syrian Refugee Committee of Mississippi Mills. Although still very much in the formative stage, the Committee has attracted a coalition of local individuals and organizations, all committed to the common goal of laying the groundwork for the sponsorship of one (or more) refugee families to make a new life here in the National Capital Region.

As such, I am very pleased to announce the launch of our new (and likely final) “Penny Mountain” campaign, in support of the Syrian Refugee Committee of Mississippi Mills. I ask all of our customers and colleagues to do one final purge of your jars and drawers, and help us support this daunting humanitarian cause. We have begun the task of doing our own “house-cleaning”, and are starting the mountain with our own donation of 25,000 pennies.

We will be gathering Pennies for the next 6 weeks, and will unveil the final proceeds at our November open-house.

Our customers can help this cause in any of three ways:

  1. Drop off your surplus Pennies at our Almonte Store (we can also receive at the October and November RA Center Stamp & Coin Shows)
  2. Drop off a donation in any form (surplus change, left-over vacation foreign coinage, etc.)
  3. Purchase a bag of 1,000 mixed Pennies for $15, housed in one of our collectible “Alliance Coin & Banknote” custom coin bags

I invite you to join our combined efforts and help make an impact – one family at a time – that will truly last a lifetime.

Sean Isaacs

Alliance Coin Penny Drives

My son Fenton helping out with our first Penny Mountain (2009) and our Penny Wall (2012)

Mystery Cent

The Remarkable Centennial Journey of a Numismatic Pretender

1936 Dot Box Interior

1936 Dot Box Interior

It has been said that a journey is often more significant than the destination itself, and indeed, while most of us can identify with the adage, I had never contemplated this in the context of an inanimate object. That is, however, until I received an intriguing telephone inquiry in the fall of 2012.

As is often the case, I was contacted by a legal firm in the Ottawa area, and asked to provide a numismatic estate appraisal. Unusually, however, this estate consisted of a single coin, which was being described to me as none other than the fabled 1936 “Dot” Penny. Arguably Canada’s most famous coinage rarity, special strikings of this otherwise common date were prepared with a raised dot beneath the date – signifying their actual striking in 1937, while awaiting new dies after the unexpected abdication of King Edward VIII. Naturally I was highly skeptical.

While I once had the privilege of being present for the public sale of one of these extreme rarities, only three Specimen strikings of the purported several hundred thousand struck had ever been discovered. Indeed, of the many wishful claims over the years that I, and many other dealers have fielded, not a single known circulated example has ever been discovered. The variety of imposters I have seen are limited only by the human imagination, and range from “dot-added” forgeries to clever obverse-drilled examples which produce a semi-natural “hump” in the general vicinity of where the dot normally would be.

Mystery Cent

Mystery Cent

Due diligence demanded I respond to this inquiry, however, and I followed through with a visit to the firm’s office. As expected, I was presented with a coin that evidently was a small Cent of George V, but that was it. Rarely had I seen a Penny that was as structurally impaired as this estate piece, and whether or not it was actually a 1936-dated piece was even inconclusive. It was indeed a one-in-a-million piece, but unfortunately not in a positive way. The actual market value of this numismatic estate? Less than the value of the envelope in which it was housed.

1936 Dot Royal Mint Letter

Click to enlarge

In fact, had I not taken a casual second look at the envelope itself, I might never have come to appreciate the remarkable journey this coin had taken in its quest for recognition. What first caught my eye on the cream-coloured linen envelope was the “On Her Majesty’s Service” imprint, then the custom “Royal Mint” embossment, and finally both London and Ottawa Registration stamps from the spring of 1967 (yes, the envelope was posted when I was just five weeks old). Revisiting the accompanying paperwork, a delightful story quickly unfolded before me.

The coin entered the first leg of its journey through the Canadian postal system, as the Ottawa-based owner forwarded it to England’s Royal Mint with a request for authentication as a 1936 “Dot” striking. This in itself is ironic, as – per the Royal Mint’s responding small typed letter of April 28th, 1967 – England had not struck Canadian coins since the opening of the Royal Canadian Mint (originally, the Ottawa Branch of the Royal Mint) in 1908. Thus, where the owner could have taken a 10-minute jaunt to Sussex Drive and likely obtained an authoritative opinion from the coin’s actual manufacturer, it was instead sent on a transatlantic journey. To the likely disappointment of the owner, the above-referenced letter, eminently thoughtful and concise, confirms the uncertainty of the piece and refers the sender back to the “Ottawa Mint”.

1936 Dot Envelope

Click to enlarge

Thus, on April 28th, 1967 (again, the same day the letter was dated), the coin was once again packaged up and dispatched via Registered Royal Mail where it was received into the Canadian postal system two weeks later on May 12th – just weeks before Canada’s Centennial.

Also found in the envelope was the obvious catalyst for the owner’s inquiry – a newspaper clipping of a short article written by the late numismatic luminary James Charlton, detailing the intriguing story of the 1936 Dot coinage.

1936 Dot News Article

Click to enlarge

Once back on Canadian soil, a subsequent letter from the Royal Canadian Mint marks the final stage of this coin’s epic journey, while also relieving the owner of any dreams of early retirement. Once again, this thoughtful and formal letter reminds of us a pre-email past, where professional courtesy demanded more than just a quick hashtag or telephone message.

In the end, I offered the estate twenty-five dollars for the envelope and contents, not with expectations of seeking a profit, but rather out of appreciation for the historical context within which this extremely humble coin took its most interesting journey.

Sean Isaacs

Our Boxing Week Blow-out!

Our eager customers await the opening of an Alliance Coin event

Don’t miss this once-a-year sale!

3 Days Only, Thursday to Saturday, 9:30 to 6:00

40% off all World Coins & Sets, Canadian Decimal Coins, ICCS & PCGS Certified Coinage, Ancient Coins, Medals & Tokens

30% off  all Canadian Banknotes, World Banknotes, Collectible Stamps, Supplies, References & Posters; 2011 & earlier Royal Canadian Mint Products

20% off all 2012 Royal Canadian Mint & 2013 British Royal Mint Products

10% offall 2013 Royal Canadian Mint Products!

*Exclusions: Gold & Silver Bullion; banknotes not sold below face value!

Door-Crasher Specials, while they last!

“Vintage Superman” .999 Silver $10 Coin; Retail: $49.95, just $35!! (one per person)

Zombie Survival Kit – One each, 1 oz Copper Bullet, 1 oz Copper Zombucks Coin, 1 oz Morgue-Anne Copper Coin; Regular $14., just $7. (one set per person)

Canada 1977 Commemorative Silver Dollar (Jubilee; Throne of Senate) – in capsule, $8.

British Royal Post “Harry Potter” Stamp Set – Regular $9.95, while they last, $6 set

United Kingdom Diamond Jubilee Medal in folder – Regular; $9.95, just $5.

Superb Ancient Coin Posters – imperfect with light edge-impairments; Regular $10-15, while they last, just $3.00 each (great for super-lux wrapping paper, etc.)

Farewell to the Penny Open House

Almonte penny drive at Alliance Coin & BanknoteA celebration of Copper coinage, and the culmination of our Penny drive, was held at the store in November 2012. At the event we got to present the proceeds of our Penny Drive to the Almonte General Hospital / Fairview Manor Foundation (1 Ton, 405,000 Pennies!). Pictured here: Jordan Isaacs, Fenton Isaacs, Sean Isaacs, Art Solomonian and Sarah Montgomery at Alliance Coin & Banknote.