By Michael O’ Higgins
Owner of Gobrecht Numismatics
I am a coin dealer and collector, and I have spent a lifetime loving the history and beauty of coins. I have harnessed this same passion and channeled it into every aspect of Gobrecht Numismatics.
Coins have given me such joy, allowed me to meet so many interesting people, and taken me on some wild escapades. It gives me such pleasure to reminisce and re-tell some of my adventures to you. This first of these adventures is titled “Falco Dog” and features my dear German Shepherd, Falco, who has since passed.
During one early morning in 2008, I was in my shop reading my teletype messages. I noticed that a couple of dealers were selling the James Adams New Discovery Dollar error coin of three varieties – one was a plain edge variety, and the other two were double and inverted edges. WOW…a New Discovery coin! As always, the excitement started my mind working overtime. “Let’s find some,” was my next thought, and I began formulating a plan of action for my next great adventure.
The Federal Reserve in Detroit was releasing these error coins, and the dealers who were selling them were from the Detroit area. I needed to know more, so I called a dealer friend of mine in northern Ohio. He spilled the beans.
“They are finding them in Southern Michigan,” he told me, and were being sold for $150 to $300 depending on the variety.
I loaded up my car for the eight-hour drive.
My best friend and guard, Falco, ran outside, ready to hit the road with me in his usual fashion. We left Sunday night and arrived in downtown Monroe, Michigan, at 8:30 a.m. on Monday. I went into the first bank I saw. I asked the teller for New Dollar rolls, and she gave me four or five. Falco and I sat in the car, opening each roll. I found 10 plain edge John Adams Dollars in 10 minutes, and I could not believe it. I immediately made a $3,000 profit!
I went back into the bank, but they refused to give me more rolls. Ironically, a coin shop was across the street from this bank, and they had no idea what was transpiring, which meant it was time for plan B.
I came upon a homeless man and asked him for his help. The deal was for him to enter the same bank and get $100 in coins. For his efforts, I would give him $100. He agreed.
The plan was successful. The man came out of the bank with a big smile and, most importantly, more coins. I found eight more plain edge Dollars. I was rich! In 30 minutes, I had amassed $5,400.
That week, I went into every bank within a 30-mile radius of this Michigan community and found coins. The catch was that I had to open a bank account in each one before I could buy more rolls, which meant by the time my adventure was complete, I had bank accounts all over Michigan. From one roll to several $500 boxes of dollar coins, I took whatever the banks would sell me.
By the week’s end, I had found another $40,000 worth of value and had $50,000 face value of dollar coins covering the floor, back seat, and trunk of my car. Time was of the essence, so we could not waste any depositing the leftover coins. There was barely enough room for Falco and me.
Falco and I drove back to Maryland only to return to Michigan two days later. His body language and stare told me that the first trip tired him out. He was my “road dog,” though, and Falco never let me down.
I had exhausted bank searches and started buying the dollar coins at the post office from the stamp machines. I would put $10 bills in to receive $1 in stamps and $9 in change. It was like playing slot machines. There were five machines, and I “played” them all. I did this for eight hours a day. The other people in the post office —workers and customers — were confused and interested in my madness. I was buying and selling these coins on the phone to my customers while driving around Detroit.
Since I had depleted the “slots” at the post office, I decided to go to banks located in downtown Detroit. For this mission, I flew my assistant to Detroit to help me. Larissa was a smart, beautiful Russian woman. She understood coins and the goal of this entire excursion.
First, I would walk through the banks’ triple locked gates and leave with more dollar coins. Larissa would then follow suit, and not unexpectedly, the tellers, specifically the male tellers, were happy to oblige her requests. We were almost a better duo than Falco and me…almost.
Falco and I had been a team for a long time. One day, I left my car in a bank parking lot for some hours while we visited the surrounding banks. Worried for my safety, the bank manager called the police. Thankfully, I returned unscathed and unharmed. This situation was a sign that it was time to return home to Maryland to count, organize, and sell our spoils. And Falco? He was ready to go home, too. He had to rest up, because he knew that the next adventure was just on the horizon.