Is this an item for Antiques Roadshow? Pawn Shop Stars? History Detectives? Or Sotheby’s Auction House?
Will a St. Pauls man be able to buy that new house and new car? Will he be able to take a break from work?
All these questions will have to be answered in the future, a future Mark Stone is already dreaming and imagining.
Stone was helping raze a burned out home in Fayetteville last Saturday when he spied something shiny between the plywood and the floor joist beneath it.
It was an 1870 silver Trade Dollar, one of the rarest and most valuable coins in the coin collecting world. One in un-circulated condition recently sold for over $1.5 million dollars.
But is it too good to be true? Who would carelessly lose such a rare and valuable coin? Who came to own it in the first place? More questions, more answers needed.
He began his search for answers on the Internet, where he learned that the 1870 San Francisco Silver Trade Dollar was worth between $108,000 and $1.5 million, depending, of course, upon condition, and that there were only a dozen or so known to have been struck.
He started dreaming. Big!
“I became very excited the more I read,” Stone said, “as I held my future in my hand. I could see me selling it and sharing some of the money with my family and my church, and still being able to buy some land and being able to build a new house on it. Then I decided that I would buy a new car. You know, the usual wish list things.”
Then he went to the library and checked some coin books, and they reiterated what the Internet site had said about rarity and value. He became even more excited. “I still couldn’t believe that I was holding one of those coins in my hand,” he said. “But there it was, smoke streaked and very old looking but still in great condition.”
Stone then called a local coin dealer Sunday night, and made an appointment to meet with him Monday morning. The dealer was unable to make the meeting but a clerk took a copy of the coin and Stone’s contact information. A representative of that dealer later met with Stone and suggested that it was a fake.
Then he called another coin expert, who determined without even seeing it that the coin was indeed a fake, one of the recent reproductions made by the score in China or Afghanistan.
Then that expert examined the coin and determined that its weight was wrong and that it failed the magnet test.
But another coin collector and dealer examined it and determined that it is authentic.
“I’m getting varying opinions,” Stone said. “I want to believe those who tell me it is real. But I am still just trying to find out one way or another. Right now, that coin is burning a hole in my pocket and in my imagination.”
If you would like to help determine the coin’s authenticity, please call Mark Stone at 910-506-9384 or Millie Mead at 910-261-4492. An appointment at a designated place will be set up and you, too, can hold a million dollars in your hand. Maybe.