The origin of a private mint
When the day finally came, I changed in to my suit, packed up my laptop computer, and gave my parents and brother a hug for good luck. It was June 1995, and today was the day my graduating class would present our high school senior projects. My project was digital, and one of the first computer programs I had ever written. I didn't know it yet, but I would learn that my knack for technology and visual design would later bridge together my future career and favorite hobby.
That previous year on campus I had befriended the school arborist, while working a summer job with the grounds crew. I never had much of an interest in horticulture, but could appreciate the beauty of the campus. Our school had a fantastic topography, with rolling hills, all nestled between various types of trees. Not many educational institutions are home to an arboretum, especially one with noted historic examples. As I spoke with the arborist about his interests regarding the dozens of different trees which he planted and maintained, I also began to share my interests in computers and technology. I would learn that he cataloged the entire arboretum on flashcards, all kept in a shoebox. Throughout our conversation, I envisioned a blueprint birds-eye view of the campus on a computer screen, with clickable buttons at the location of trees, displaying all the information compiled from those flashcards. Perhaps by chance, my senior project idea was formed.
During the day of our senior project presentation my computerized arboretum project received high praise by the school, and made the cover of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s technology section, appearing in a subsequent article here: Friends’ Central computerized arboretum.
With the success of my first computer program, I would continue my study of software development and design at Elizabethtown College, graduating with a degree in Computer Engineering and Business Information Systems. Now you might be wondering why I haven’t yet mentioned coins? Well, my interest of coins had always been with me throughout this journey, but in a very nonchalant way. That interest would become paramount and take center stage during the summer of 2007.
While working in downtown Philadelphia as a software engineer for a financial firm, I stumbled upon a coin store during my lunch break. My office was right across from Jewelers Row, near the Liberty Bell next to Washington Square Park. I would often take walks searching for different lunch venues, however this day I walked through the doors of a local coin exchange.
Speaking with the store proprietors we discussed general topics, and I learned about the infamous 1933 Double Eagle discoveries, all of which transpired just a few years prior in 2005, only a block away from where I was standing. I had never seen a Double Eagle up close, and was presented a common date example to view. I asked about the price range for that particular coin, and was then presented a Red Book.
Picking up my first Red Book, I flipped through the pages, studying the different price ranges of Double Eagles, Morgan Silver Dollars and Barber Halves. I concluded that the variety of coin types made the study of numismatics an inexhaustible hobby, and the price spread between scarce dates and mintmarks allowed for quite a dynamic market. Towards the front of the Red Book were the Colonial Issues, rooted in history. Towards the back of the Red Book were Patterns, the likes which I had never seen.
It was the Patterns and Private Issue tokens which drew me in, specifically, the Feuchtwanger Cent.
I took it upon myself to purchase an original Feuchtwanger Cent, and studied it meticulously. Here was a design which would hold up to today’s standards, in beauty and form. Thoughts raced through my head as to why this design and many other patterns were never adopted as standard issue coinage.
How many people had actually seen and held these elusive coin types, and for that matter, how many people even knew of their existence? After all, original pattern coinage can run in the thousands of dollars for any surviving examples. I felt it necessary to pay homage to these singularly unique coins of yesteryear and in 2011 my first silver commemorative was created, based upon the Feuchtwanger Cent. The Grove Minting Company would be tasked to design a new commemorative with each coming year, deriving examples from 18th and 19th century legacy.
As I am working full time developing software across multiple industries, I am slowly closing the gap between engineering and numismatics. In 2015 I was awarded two US Patents, which utilizes software algorithms to automatically identify coins in a novel way. This process should be quite applicable within our industry, and also solve a very specific business problem, once I get all the kinks worked out. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy the coinage designs I have revisited, as the modern works before you.
Founder & CEO
Grove Minting Company