Great Nickel Caper evidence of penny-ante criminals at work

boxes of nickels

Not only is it not quite on par with the Great Train Robbery or the JFK Lufthansa Heist, but the Great Nickel Caper of 2015 may be among the most irrational crimes ever committed, at least in terms of cost-effectiveness.

Recently, 183 boxes of nickels were purloined from a residence in North Naples, Fla., during a house party. The value of the 360,000 5-cent pieces was $18,000. The weight of the nicked nickels? Nearly 4,000 pounds. (Among questions that come to mind is why anyone would have 360,000 nickels in their home?)

The coins were stored in blue and white boxes the size of large bricks, according to a South Florida television station.

Detectives are asking the public to be especially alert at places where individuals can redeem change, such as at banks or grocery stores with coin-counting machines, reported WFTX-TV.

Thieves also made off with a .12-gauge shotgun, a .45-caliber firearm and miscellaneous ammunition, possibly to protect their ill-gotten booty as they made a very, very slow getaway.

In all seriousness, what does one do with 360,000 nickels? I suppose you’d never have to worry about having money for parking meters, but other than that – and heading to a gambling casino to play the nickel slots until your arm falls off – it seems like you’ve bought yourself more problems than the $18,000 is worth.

Then again, criminals usually aren’t noted for being deep thinkers.

And the casino scenario isn’t even realistic. Besides loading up a U-Haul, how would you get the money to gambling establishment without attracting undo attention?

On the plus side, one supposes the nickel nabbers have a great start on a coin collection, narrow though it may be.

(Top: Boxes of nickels similar to those stolen from a North Naples, Fla., home last month.)

Canada to melt down 200K+ gold coins

10-Canadian gold coin

Concerned that its gold reserves would disappear with the outbreak of World War I, Canada withdrew nearly 250,000 newly minted gold coins from circulation in 1914.

The currency, minted between 1912 and 1914, represented the first gold coins ever minted by Ottawa. The coins would spend the next century in cloth bags inside a Bank of Canada vault.

Some 30,000 of the $5 and $10 pieces were offered for sale to collectors late last year, but the remainder will be melted down, part of the Conservative government’s efforts to help balance the country’s books.

The $10 coins sold for either $1,000 or $1,750 each, depending on whether they were classified as “premium” quality or not, according to the Globe and Mail.

Final figures connected with the sale, which just closed, won’t be known until spring, but a mint official confirmed that nearly all coins were sold.

The publication, in fact, described the sale as a creating a bit of gold rush among Canadian collectors.

“It’s the most popular topic for 2013, for sure,” said Michael Wang, a Vancouver coin collector who bought individual coins and also paid $12,000 for a six-coin set. “My wife was about to kill me when I told her I bought this thing.

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When counterfeit dimes were worth the effort

1861 counterfeit dime

The practice of counterfeiting money is as old as money itself.

Archaeologists have discovered counterfeit examples of coins produced in Lydia, a Roman province said to be the locale of the first metallic coinage, dating back to the 7th century BC.

Today, we tend to think of counterfeiters as individuals who mass produce paper money, usually in large denominations – $20 or higher.

But until relatively recently, nearly all counterfeit money came in coin form. This was because until relatively recently nearly all money came in coin form, and was known as “hard money” because it contained a commodity such as gold or silver which gave it intrinsic value.

A short 1884 article in the New York Times highlighted just how valuable even small coins – albeit those made of silver – were 130 years ago.

MARLBOROUGH, N.Y. – Counterfeit silver dollars, quarters and ten-cent pieces are being circulated in a number of the Hudson River counties. The quarter dollars and dimes are said to be very good imitations of genuine money. It is said that ticket agents on the line of the Hudson River Railroad have been told to scrutinize carefully all silver offered in payment for tickets. It is believed that the counterfeits were first put in circulation about three weeks ago.

Today it seems difficult to imagine someone going to the difficulty of attempting to counterfeit a dime, never mind working hard enough at it to do it well.

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In Canada, the penny hangs on tenaciously

canadian pennies

The Canadian penny is showing it’s not going down without a fight.

Nearly two months after the Royal Canadian Mint stopped distributing the one-cent piece, the coin continues to circulate, causing some confusion north of the border.

That’s because when government officials announced the mint would end the penny’s run after more than 150 years, many people thought the cent would no longer be used.

But that’s not quite the case, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

“Businesses don’t have to turn over the pennies they collect to the bank and they can decide if they want to keep using Canada’s smallest currency, even though it’s not being produced,” the CBC reported.

Pennies still remain legal tender in Canada, it added.

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Coin, misplaced for 50 years, brings $360K

1796 half cent

Face value, the small copper coin that went under the auctioneer’s hammer Tuesday represented the smallest denomination of currency the United States ever produced – just half a cent.

But in one of the more astonishing bits of numismatic lore, the 1796 Liberty Cap half cent sold for nearly $300,000 – nearly $360,000 with auctioneer’s premium – meaning the coin increased in value 71,600,000-fold over the 210-plus years since it was minted in Philadelphia during George Washington’s presidency.

The rare half cent, sold at a small provincial auction in southwest England, went to an American bidder from the Numismatic Financial Corp. of Winter Springs, Fla., according to CBS News.

The final price, perhaps not surprisingly, is one of the highest ever paid for a half cent.

The coin bears a liberty head design on one side, with a pole and liberty cap in the background. The reverse features an open wreath of olive stems tied with a ribbon.

Half cents were minted by the US from 1793 until 1857.

The story of the coin sold Tuesday is both fascinating and perplexing.

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One-of-a-kind dime fetches $1.84 million

The two existing United States mints produce coins at a staggering rate. Since 1999, more than 180 billion pennies, dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollar pieces have been turned out by the Philadelphia and Denver mints.

In the year 2000 alone, the Philadelphia mint alone coined more than 1.8 billion 10-cent pieces. That’s five dimes for every man, woman and child in the US just in that year alone.

Alas, mints didn’t always produce coins in such prodigious amounts.

Take, for example, the Carson City, Nev., mint, which in 1873 struck just 12,400 Seated Liberty dimes of a variety collectors designate as “without arrows,” for its lack of arrows on the obverse, on either side of the date.

All were produced in a single day.

Just one example of that brief run is known to exist, and it was auctioned for $1.84 million in Philadelphia late last week.

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British hoard turns up coin from 32 BC

Included in a massive hoard of coins discovered in Bath, England, five years ago is one silver piece that dates back to before the birth of Christ, researchers recently learned.

A Roman coin dating from 32 BC is the oldest found so far from among the approximately 22,000 pieces unearthed in a stone-lined box by archaeologists working in Bath in 2007, according to the BBC.

That makes it more than 200 years older than any of the other coins already examined from among the so-called Beau Street Hoard, according to Stephen Clews, manager of the Roman Baths.

The silver coins are believed to date from 274 AD and have been described as the fifth-largest hoard ever found in the United Kingdom, according to the BBC.

The coins were fused together and sent to the British Museum, according to media outlet. Conservators are expected to take at least a year to work through them.

The coins were discovered about 150 yards from the Roman Baths, the BBC added.

The previous oldest coin found in the hoard was from about 190 AD but that figure has had to be revised considerably with the discovery of the coin dating back to the time of Marc Antony, Clews said.

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