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Commems Collection: 1935 Arkansas Centennial And B. Max Mehl

 
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 Posted 01/17/2013  4:10 pm Show Profile   Bookmark this topic Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Message
B. Max Mehl was one of the most well-known US coin dealers of the first half of the 20th century, and was very active in the sale of US commemoratives. He served beginning collectors as well as advanced, and conducted a long-running series of auctions that garnered much attention within the numismatic community. I've always enjoyed reading his entertaining ads in old copies of the ANA's The Numismatist - he was quite a promoter!

In addition to being a coin dealer, Mehl was also a coin book publisher. In fact, he gained much of his fame through the promotion and sale of his Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia, a small booklet that listed the prices Mehl would pay for rare US and World coins. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of these little booklets were distributed by Mehl over the years as it went through its many editions!

He also advertised in popular national magazines and on radio, encouraging the general public to check their pocket change for rare and valuable coins. One of his most famous promotions was his offer to pay $50 (a very nice sum in the 1930s!) for a 1913 Liberty Head nickel. I don't believe anyone ever sent Mehl one of the five known examples of this rarity, but it did get folks across the US looking through their change! (And buying his Encyclopedia!)

In 1936, it appears that Mehl found himself with a good supply of the recently issued 1935 Arkansas Centennial half-dollars and decided to promote them with his usual style and flair. He did so by sending a special mailer to his customers touting the investment potential of several recent US commemoratives, chief among them were the Arkansas half-dollars. Below are images of each of the flyer's four pages - great stuff! I've also shown my example of the coin - I wonder if it was originally part of Mehl's inventory?!














In 1937, Mehl published his own booklet on US commemorative coins. It is a colorful, interesting read that is a bit different from the more "academic" reference works that had previously been published. If you ever come across one, I would recommend purchasing it as it is a very entertaining read. I've included images of the book's cover and two Arkansas-related pages below; I wonder if the comments/opinions of the "One Collector" that are included are actually Mehl's? Seeing how much of a salesman and "character" he was, it wouldn't surprise me!

Enjoy!









Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 01/17/2013  8:11 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add nickelsearcher to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Wow ... I truly enjoyed reading the B Max Mehl flyer advertising his sale of the Arkansas Half and other coins on the final two pages.

Interesting to note that from the perspective of 2013 Mehl was correct ... every coin he had for sale has appreciated many time in value from his 'peak of the craze' 1936 expectations. Wish I had purchased them at that time.

Pleased to report that for the first time commems I actually have a related material that you have so generously shared from your world-class collection ... I own an original version of B. Max Mehl self-published handbook of the "Commemorative Coins of the United States"

Your PCGS MS65 example of the 1935 Arkansas is stunning ... could have been had for the lofty price of $2.95 according the Mehl flyer ... and a worthy coin to complete of course this post.

Humbly suggest that this tread illustrates the difficulty in pursuing these coins in honestly circulated condition ... history as shared above demonstrates these were all sold to collectors at a premium ... and perhaps a few were maybe spent at face value.

Those few ever used in commerce were likely recognized as different ... and pulled from circulation.

Imagine the set of circumstances that allowed this same exact 1935 Arkansas to achieve wear equivalent to it's PCGS VF20 certification ...



Such is the joy and thrill of collecting the classic silver commemorative set ... great coins .. great history ... and a tremendous collecting pursuit.

Thanks commems for another tremendous post.

David
Take a look at my other hobby ... http://www.finewoodcrafter.com
Too many hobbies .... too much work .... not enough time.
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 Posted 01/18/2013  04:13 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add cc99999 to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
is it too late to get on the max's mehling list? good stuff Dave!
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 Posted 01/18/2013  09:40 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add blackjack to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Great post, commems. Thank you.
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 Posted 01/18/2013  10:19 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CoinsKelly to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
One of his most famous promotions was his offer to pay $50 (a very nice sum in the 1930s!) for a 1913 Liberty Head nickel.


I have always loved that story. Talk about a win/win; increased interest in coin collecting and marketing idea of the decade!

I wonder if this is where PCGS got their idea for their current $10,000 show and tell stunt.

As usual, thank you for the detail and history.
Edited by CoinsKelly
01/18/2013 10:21 am
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 Posted 01/19/2013  3:11 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CoinsKelly to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Hey! I just saw a similar article with the brochure in CoinWorld online! Hmmmm....
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 Posted 01/19/2013  4:30 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Do you have a link? I wasn't aware of it.

Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 01/19/2013  4:45 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CoinsKelly to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Wow, I actually thought you wrote it.

I can't get to it right now (my bandwidth software at work does not like the way CW does their adverts) but if you browse to CoinWorld, do a search in Articles on Max Mehl, a result for "Know Your Old Money" will pop up. That is the one I am talking about.
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 Posted 01/19/2013  6:18 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CoinsKelly to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
(at home now) The brochure is not the same one in this thread for Know Your Old Money. For some reason I can only get to it from my iPad on the CoinWorld app.
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 Posted 01/19/2013  8:38 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add commems to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
I was able to find the article you mentioned, thanks for making me aware of it. It's a nice general intro piece to B. Max Mehl.

It's hard to write about Mehl without referring to his promotional skills, his Star Rare Coin Encyclopedia or his famous $50.00 offer for a 1913 Liberty Head nickel. So, some similarities between our articles were bound to exist.

For now, I'm only writing for CCF. In the future, maybe that will change.





Collecting history one coin or medal at a time! (c) commems. All rights reserved.
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 Posted 01/19/2013  9:17 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add CoinsKelly to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
You are correct. You write very well and for a moment I thought that you were writing for them as well. .
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 Posted 01/20/2013  07:57 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add blackjack to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
commems, I wrote for publication for many years, though not about coins. I won't presume that you haven't published; you are a fine writer. It's a great thrill to receive a copy of something you've written.
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