Sunday, January 24, 2010

Syracusan dekadrachms for sale, in Chicago, below melt value

The New York Times reported (no byline) on October 9, 1939 that Nate Lew, owner of a Chicago second-hand store, bought 23 stolen Greek coins for $2. The coins included 10 Syracusan dekadrachms.

The coins were stolen on June 3, 1939 from the Philadephia Academy of Fine Arts. “Gis Butz, 54 years old, who had one of the [dekadrachms], and Nicholas Niketas, 45, who had the other nine, had been charged with with disorderly conduct.... Nate Lew is aiding the police in tracing the three coins still missing.”.

At over 40 grams each the dekadrachms alone would have contained at least 400g of silver, 12 and a half ounces. Two US silver dollars would have contained one and a half ounces of silver. So the thieves sold the dekadrachms to Nate Lew for less than 12% of melt value.

Imagine walking into a second-hand store with 10 dekadrachms and 13 other museum quality ancients, asking for $5 or $10 for the lot, and being talked down to $2! Nate Lew drives a hard bargain.

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