Every coin collector in America has at some time dreamed of finding the rarest of the rare. For instance, there is the 1913 Liberty Head Nickel. What’s so special about this nickel? 1913 was the year that “Buffalo Nickels” were first minted and no Liberty Head Nickels were produced again—officially.
In reality, five such nickels were struck—possibly by the U.S. Mint’s Museum Curator. They passed through the hands of many collectors, including the crowned heads of Europe. One of these sold for $1.48 million in 1993—it was truly a “million-dollar-nickel.”
Another rarest of the rare is the 1804 Silver Dollar. It was actually struck in 1843 for the purpose giving them to foreign heads of state—including the King of Siam. But these silver dollars made their way into the sets of wealthy collectors. Only sixteen are known to have been minted. Because of their rarity, they all have brought stupendous prices, one selling for $4.15 million.
And then there are the many others who hope to find the world-famous 1894-S “Barber Dime.” Only twelve are known to have been minted, all by the Director of San Francisco U.S. Mint, J. Daggett. Daggett gave nine of the twelve away to banker friends—who passed them on as heirlooms or sold them for profit. However, the remaining three he gave to his young daughter Hallie and warned her: “Hallie, these coins are extremely rare and great in value. Keep them safe and in years to come you’ll be able to sell them for a lot of money.” Sadly, his daughter immediately took one of the dimes, went to the local ice cream parlor, and bought a dish of ice cream with it – thus placing the dime into common circulation.
The Way You Treat the Coin
These coins, and others like them, derive their extreme value not from being like every other coin, but from being different, quite literally, “one in a million.” That’s why these rarest 1894-S Barber Dimes sold for such high prices: In January 2005 one of these sold for over $1 million ($1,025,000.00) and two months later another sold for over $1.3 million ($1,355,500.00) = 13 million times its original “face value.” And what about the infamous “Ice Cream Dime,” the one Hallie Daggett used to buy a dish of ice cream. In 1957—after 63 years of common use—this very worn dime sold for only $2.40 at the Gimbels Department Store in NY.i
In the case of these rare coins, the worst thing to do to them is to put them to common use. Additionally, it treats them like any other coin, wears away the detail of their images, and greatly diminishes their value.
People Like Coins
Similarly, people of faith are like rare coins. For example, sometimes they fail to realize that their value is based on being different, even rare, not in being like everyone else. They also fail to realize how tragic it is to spend themselves on common purposes—for temporal pleasures in which they are taken only at face value, or for selfish pursuits that do not extend beyond this life. God calls us to invest our lives in a higher cause, one that has eternal significance—the cause of His kingdom, the cause of the Gospel, the cause of helping humanity and leaving the world a better place than when we found it.
“Do not work for that which perishes and fails to satisfy, but work for that which fills the heart and endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:27).
Dear Father in heaven, each day I trade a part of my existence for some pursuit or endeavor. Please grant, O God, that I may be a wise trader, so that I will exchange that which I cannot keep to gain that which I cannot lose. Amen.
i Information from J. K. Kelley, The Book of Incredible Information, p. 332.