84 rare coins missing from SPS museum

Authorities haven't punished officials who took some of these coins


Srinagar, Mar 23: Dozens of rare coins are missing from SPS Museum at Lal Mandi, and in the absence of a proper record, there are apprehensions that hundreds of coins would have been stolen. And high on the list of suspects are some officials of the museum, according to a report submitted by a government committee.

The documents available with Greater Kashmir reveal that eight gold and 76 silver coins have been stolen from the museum.

The report prepared by the officials in 2003, after physical verification of Gold and Silver coins displayed in the museum, says, "As per a classification register, there are 62 gold coins classified under various accession numbers from serial numbers 1 to 61. Out of these only 54 are lying with present in charge of the collection, and eight gold coins are missing from the stock."

The missing gold coins, according to the officials maintaining the register, were lying with the then curator "for purpose of identification", but the register doesn't say what happened to the coins later.

Did the then curator return the coins? When this question was posed to the Director Archives, Archaeology and Museum, Qazi Khurshid Ahmad, he evaded a straight reply and uttered irrelevant comments: "I was not in the department when the report was submitted. What sin have I committed that you are filing stories against me. I know who the source behind these stories is. You can come to my office and we can talk in detail."

The deputy director, Archives, M S Zahid said he has no information about the issue. "If such a thing had happened, it should have been brought to my notice. I should have been taken into confidence. But it is news to me that some officials have conducted a physical verification of the coins. If the coins are missing, the authorities should have inquired about their whereabouts. And if they have been stolen, the authorities should file an FIR," he said.
About the missing 76 silver coins the report says, "The register maintaining record of the Silve Coins section is without pagination. "There are about 27,055 silver coins as per the General Accession Register but as per the Classification Register, there are only 27,026 in the concerned collection. This means 29 coins are missing in this section."

Another register, according to the report, shows 24421 silver coins instead of 24449, signifying that 28 silver coins are missing here as well.

The third register, according to the report, shows 19 silver coins lying with S L Raina, an official who has once been in charge of the coins section. The register is silent about these 19 silver coins.

The report says, "As already mentioned that in the 1900 AD, G B Bleazely the famous numismatist and then Accountant General of J&K State had identified more than two thousand coins. He has also prepared a list of these classified coins, a copy of the list is very much available in the reference library of SPS Museum, Srinagar. However, the list of coins prepared by him hardly coincides with the stock of silver coins housed in the Museum. Very few coins are classified in the classifications register. There classification detail is also subject to confirmation by the competent subject expert. For example S. No. 1 Accession No. 315 shows 24421 silver coins and medals. All the coins and medals are unclassified and unidentified. There is every possibility of easy exchange and easy replacement of rare coins by common ones."

The collection of thousands of rare coins has not been cataloged so far, thus making the collection prone to theft by the officials and burglars.

The storage of coins is unscientific and insecure. Most of them have developed rust due to poor preservation and scores have been kept in unsafe cotton cloth and century old bags. These torn bags have been kept in lockers.

During the physical verification, the concerned officials lamented at what they called "the unfortunate state of affairs" in the department. "The classification register that was provided to the physical verification committee does not seem to be the original because it is without pagination, attestation by the competent authority, and the weight of no coin is recorded on the register," the report reads.

The classification registers before 1980 were not shown to the probe committee comprising then assistant director Archives Jammu, Peerzada M Ashraf; Conservator Assistant Dogra Art Museum (Jammu), Kirpal Singh; and Peer Muhammad Iqbal, the then store keeper of the Museum.

The committee, however, has not recommended any course of action to recover these coins. All they recommended is how to preserve the priceless treasure by their proper cataloging, weighing, identification of genuine coins, procurement of coin coffers and fire proof lockers, chemicals for their preservation, and the services of numismatic experts for proper and attractive display of these coins.


Coins shaped like guitar

Name: Alok Kumar Goyal Age: 44 years
Claim to fame: Collecting coins is this software consultant's passion. His collection — spanning three decades — includes not just coins used across the globe but also special commemorative ones. He has lost count of the number of coins he has.
The quantity is matched by quality. Goyal has 62 sets of Republic India (which focus on developmental issues and leaders like Gandhi and Netaji), coloured coins from across the globe and coins to commemorate international women's year, international children's year and the first world science conference in India. The value of the rare coins is over Rs 40,000 each.
Early start: Goyal began collecting coins as a child. "My father used to get the special collections from the Reserve Bank of India. That's how I developed my interest," he says. He constantly keeps in touch with fellow collectors and mints to learn about the new coins in the market.
"I spend my free time on the Internet, trying to find out about new coins and exchange extra coins for the ones I don't have," says Goyal. His latest acquisitions are coloured coins in various shapes and sizes. He has coins from the US shaped like guitars, motorcycles, fishes and butterflies.
"Coloured coins are a rage now but India does not produce such coins," he says, showing off his new cat coin collection from the UK.
Business sense: "Coins are good investments in India. After the mint stops producing a collectors' edition coin, its value can double in three months," says Goyal, who spends between Rs 8,000 and Rs 10,000 every month to expand his collection.
One of his favourites is the silver-coloured series depicting Queen Elizabeth II at different stages of her life. Another coin he likes was produced by Somali Republic to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi. It depicts the three monkeys. Among Goyal's prized possession is a set that Princess Diana brought to India. It contains coins etched with an image of her and Mother Teresa and of her holding baby Prince William.
Other uses: Goyal is using his coin collection to teach his two sons about places and people. "I give them a coin and ask them to gather information about the place it is from or the people it is commemorating. This keeps the boys interested."

Silver coins worth weight in gold

The Queen presented Maundy Money to 82 men and 82 women yesterday at the Church of Ireland's St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh city.
  • Present-day Maundy coins consist of silver one, two, three and four-penny pieces.
  • Maundy Money has always been legal tender and in the 19th century sets were available to the general public.
  • Since 1909, however, the coins have been given only to Maundy recipients and, in lieu of fees, to officials and others who take part in the annual service, including each choirboy.
  • The Maundy coins have been minted each year since 1971 as decimal coins and are now the only silver coinage issued.
  • The coins carry the young head of the sovereign for the entire duration of their reign.
  • The number of men and women receiving Maundy Money each equals the age of the sovereign during the year.
  • Each recipient will receive 82p in Maundy coins, newly minted Sterling silver coins worth much more than their face value.
  • The recipients have been selected from the four main denominations in Northern Ireland in recognition of their work for their church and community.
  • The ceremony traces its origin to the Last Supper when, as St John recorded, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.
  • Afterwards, Jesus gave the disciples a command or "mandatum" - the Latin word from which Maundy is derived - to love one another.
  • Dating from about 600AD, the ceremony originally involved the king, queen or their representative washing the feet of the poor.
  • The Queen is not expected to wash the pensioners' feet but a historical relic of the church service is that nosegays or posies of strong-smelling flowers or herbs are still carried in the royal procession, a reminder of when the bad odour of the feet of the poor would need disguising.
  • "Bad" King John, according to the Roll of the Wardrobe Expenses, gave money to the poor on Maundy Thursday; in 1212, at Rochester, 13 paupers each received 13 pence.
  • By the early 14th century, it had become customary for the sovereign to provide a meal, together with gifts of food and clothing.


Rising price of precious metals spurs the buying and selling of coins

By Charlie Mathews
MANITOWOC — Gold fever has hit Jim Lukes.
He's putting in 14-hour days at his downtown coin and stamp shop where the phone never seems to stop ringing while he tries to wait on several customers at a time.
"I tell people, 'you may own gold but don't be owned by it,'" said Lukes, who's bought and sold the precious metal since 1977.
Earlier this month, gold briefly cracked the $1,000 an ounce barrier, and the price is up about $300 compared to a year ago.
Blame — or credit — goes to a weakening U.S. dollar, with gold a traditional inflation hedge. "Gold should be just part of a good investment portfolio," said Lukes.
He buys and sells U.S. government minted American Eagle gold coins, acceptable as legal tender for purchases, in $5, $10, $25 and $50 denominations.
The selling price on Wednesday was $105 for the one-tenth ounce coin, $255 for a quarter-ounce $10 piece, $500 for a half-ounce coin, and $990 for the one-ounce $50 coin.
Lukes explained the U.S. Treasury sells the American Eagles to 13 hand-picked suppliers.
"The public can't buy directly from the Mint, nor me," he said. "I have to buy from one of these built-in middlemen, worse still."
He said his supply of gold coins is at the mercy of the public, "who I like buying from to save shipping costs," the suppliers, "who are never generous or lenient no matter which way the price is going," and other dealers with whom he trades.
"You don't have to be authorized to sell gold, so when there is a gold rush, the charlatans and crooks pop up," Lukes said. He blasts the individuals who blow into town, set up a shop at a local hotel, "buy from the good citizens and get the heck out.
"Whereas, the local guy has been around for 31 years and has to keep his nose clean because people know where he is," said Lukes, from his store at 815 Jay St. Lukes said the heightened interest in gold does have a positive impact on his business, despite a minimal profit margin.
He said individuals may revive or begin a coin or stamp collecting hobby. Lukes then has the opportunity to make his livelihood buying and selling rare items.
'Rough times' good for Dan Zirk Owner of Manitowoc Card & Coin, 3519 Custer St., Dan Zirk also has been busy in recent weeks, but mostly with silver.
"This is Manitowoc and we're not a rich town," said Zirk, with silver currently selling for about $19 an ounce, up about 40 percent from $13.50 a year ago. In business for 21 years, Zirk said he'll leave stocking gold coins to Lukes.
"Like gold, some people are investing in silver as part of their portfolio, as opposed to putting money into the stock market, which many think will tank," Zirk said.
He believes many individuals like the "physical feel" of their precious metal investment, the ability to touch the gold and silver. "It's been that way for thousands of years," Zirk said.
He said he makes a minimal profit on escalating gold and silver prices, and also generates more revenue off collector coins.
Zirk has had a surge in customers bringing in gold wedding bands and necklaces that he weighs, prices out, and sells to another dealer who eventually ships the items to a smelter.
"When gold and silver go up, people sometimes sell things they don't want to sell, like a pile of silver dollars from their grandma," Zirk said. "But they may need to make a house payment. When times get rough, it's good for me."
Charlie Mathews: (920) 686-2969 or
Source: USA Today and Encyclopedia Brittanica

Dollar coins can be worth a mint

By Terry Maurer, What's it Worth?

Q. I have seven of these silver dollars, each has a date of 1922. Some have a mint mark "S," others have no mint mark at all. I know these probably are collectible. My question is: Has the recent jump in the price of silver made them all the more valuable? -- Martin in West Richland

A. A timely and interesting question.

For decades, coins and stamps have been said to be the No. 1 and No. 2 collecting hobby in America. Some reports say there are more coin collectors (numismatists); some say more stamp collectors (philatelists). Whichever, there are a lot of each.

To coin collectors, American silver dollars are near the top in interest.

Congress authorized the silver dollar in 1792 and the U.S. Mint issued the first silver dollar coins in 1794. These rarely are found today, as are most of the dollar coins up until the 1840 "Seated Liberty" series of coins.

Most commonly seen in the collectors' market are the "Liberty Head" or "Morgan" dollar, issued between 1878 and 1921 (there was a break between 1904 and 1921). Some of those coins, especially low-production dates from the mint at Carson City, Nev., are now worth thousands of dollars. We've included a photo of an 1894 Morgan dollar in today's What's It Worth for reference.

Martin's silver dollar is from the "Peace Dollar" series, which was issued between 1921 and 1935. As a coin, they have historically ranged in value from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars depending on mint mark, number made, condition and other factors.

Your question about the recent explosion in the price of "spot silver" -- the daily value of the metal -- strikes to the heart of what currently has the collectible coin market in something of a tumult.

Just a few years ago, when silver was $7 or $8 an ounce, your coins would have been worth more as collectible items than for the value of the silver they contain. In the 2001 Official Red Book: a Guide Book of United States Coins your dollars -- in extremely fine condition -- were valued at $11 each.

Today, a 1922 "S" mint mark Peace dollar, in extremely fine condition, will set you back $20 or so at an Internet store -- plus shipping.

The big difference is the value of the silver in the coin. Your dollar is 90 percent silver. Silver specialists use a multiplier to determine how much the silver in the dollar is worth at the current price of silver bullion. They call it the "melt value."

We're told you multiply the price of silver by .76 and the result is (approximately) the value of the coin if it were melted down and the silver retrieved.

As last week ended, the world market price of silver was hovering near $20 an ounce. Twenty multiplied by .76 is about $15 (give or take, I was never all that great at math).
So, the silver alone in your coin is worth about $15, then you add a premium for the coin itself and -- yes, the value of your coins has been affected by the price of silver. Pretty dramatically so.

Will they be worth more next week or next year? Stay tuned, the market always fluctuates.
And be careful -- there are plenty of U.S. dollar coins you might find in your purse or pocket that contain no silver at all.

Most Eisenhower dollars, and all Susan B. Anthony and Sacajawea dollar coins have no silver. A few Eisenhower coins were issued by the Mint as "silver-clad" coins celebrating the Bicentennial in 1976.

Anthony's and Sacajawea's are composition coins. The Anthony dollars are copper and nickel and the Sacajawea dollars have a pure copper core with an outer layer of magnesium brass.

Circulated coins like those are worth about $1 each.

CBC to issue presidential commemorative coins

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Central Bank of the Republic of China (Taiwan) is planning to issue coins to commemorate the inauguration of the country's 12th president and vice president, CBC Governor Perng Fai-nan said yesterday.

Speaking at the Legislative Yuan, Perng said the CBC is following precedent with its issue of commemorative coins to mark the inauguration of the nation's popularly-elected leaders.

Perng said the new coins have already been designed and will be issued on May 20 when Ma Ying-jeou and Vincent Siew are inaugurated as the 12th president and vice president of the nation. He did not say how many sets of coins the central bank will issue on that day.

In May 1996, the CBC issued 2,500 sets of commemorative silver coins to mark the inauguration of Lee Teng-hui and Lien Chan as the ninth president and vice president of the nation. At the time, the cost of the coins was NT$20,000 (about US$650) per set.
The CBC also issued similar commemorative silver coins in 2000 to mark the inauguration of Chen Shui-bian and Annette Lu as the 10th president an vice president of the nation.


Antique Coins Collecting for Fun & Profit

By James Ross

You only have to look at how busy the coins section is on Ebay to know that coin collecting is an incredibly popular activity. It's one of the most popular hobbies around and one of the most profitable too.

Finding coins to collect is easy but finding ones that are actually valuable to collect is the challenge faced by most collectors. As a rule of thumb, the older the coins is the more collectible it becomes as often they are more rare than more modern coins.

The best place to find Antique coins include auction houses, coin shows, coin fairs and malls. But if you are more serious you should visit historical sites where antique coins are more likely to be found. You should bear in mind that the value of Antique coins depends on where it from as well as the age and historical background of its origin. Therefore buying at the historical location gives you a very good advantage over other collectors.

There are a few other pointers you might want to consider when buying an antique coin.
Firstly make sure the coin you wish to purchase is original. This goes without saying but there are many replicas and even counterfeit coins flooding the market, so close inspection to validate their authenticity is a must.

When you start off your coin collecting hobby, start slowly if you are on a low budget. Then as your portfolio of coins increases in value you could re-sell some of it at a profit and buy more valuable ones. If you find a coin that you think is a valuable addition to your collection make sure that you find an appraiser that can determine the value so that you do not get ripped off. So don't try to value it yourself unless you are quite experienced, and seek the help of professionals when the circumstances dictate like when the coin is quite expensive.
You need to specialize when you start collecting Antique coins so choose one particular era or country to focus on. This will make it easier for you to become an expert. You must also take good care of the coins to ensure you preserve their appearance and thus their value. And be careful not to clean Antique coins to excess otherwise you might actually depreciate their value.

Coin collecting can really be a source of great fun and taking it up as a hobby is probably one of the best decision you can make. As long as you remain patient it will be a long term hobby bringing you plenty of satisfaction for years to come as well as a very profitable investment.

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Joining a Coin Club

By: Nicholas Tan

People engage in social activities for many reasons; most common is sharing in the same interest and passion as other people. It is in places like these that information about a certain subject is shared and new ideas and trends are revealed that keep its members up to date with current events that happen in that club.

A coin collection club is the same. Since the number of people who have been doing coin collecting has increased over the years, the vast network involves numerous clubs in several states. In these clubs amateurs and professionals can share, trade and bid for new items to add to their existing collections.

There is never a wrong time to join a club. The challenging part is looking for one. You can start by asking the local coin dealer for help.

Some coin clubs can even be found on the internet and they will require that a membership fee be paid. Coin clubs often can also be found in the newspaper especially when events are advertised that invite the public to come and visit the exhibit.

If a person is still having a hard time finding a coin club then inquire at the local library or the Chamber of Commerce as they may be able help provide information.

One benefit of being a member is that it is easier to find someone who will buy coins at a good price. Or perhaps other members may want to part with some of their coins in exchange (called bartering) for other coins. Most local coin stores only have a limited selection that is available for trading.

Another benefit of becoming a member is obtain articles which feature a certain coin collection or discover better ways of caring for a collection. The club also informs its members about upcoming events so the individual can plan ahead to be able to attend the events.

Coin clubs are formed so that everyone who loves coins can have fun. This means that it is not only for those who have a collection at home; it is open to novices, experienced collectors who have done it for years, as well as coin experts They build a network that enable collectors to assist others. To become a member of a club just find a suitable one and join the fun!