Friday Odds and Ends for July 15


A 91-year-old woman filled in a crossword puzzle at a museum. The problem? The “puzzle” was part of an art display at the museum.




Thomas Edison was one of the first technology superstars; when Electrical Experimenter magazine ran this photo of his hands in 1919, the caption read in part: “IF THE WORLD WERE CALLED UPON TO MAKE AN INVENTORY OF WHAT MR. EDISON’S HANDS ACTUALLY WROGHT IN ENRICHING THIS PLANET, THERE WOULD NOT BE GOLD ENOUGH TO PAY HIM.”





The Machin portrait of Queen Elizabeth II is the most reproduced artwork of all time, and can be seen on stamps all across the world. The Machin portrait is 50 years old this year.






Two young adults playing the new Pokémon GO game managed to save a house and the life of a beloved dog.




Need a little cuteness after a rough week? Read up on ducklings: science says they’re both cute AND intelligent!


Friday Odds and Ends, July 8




A cyborg with rat tissue and a skeleton of gold? It’s real! And it’s beautiful.





Have you heard of ESPER? The Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections is “dedicated to promoting the collecting of stamps and philatelic material depicting people and events related to the African Diaspora and to encouraging and supporting the interest and participation of Black people in all aspects of philately.” You can follow them on Twitter, too!



Seeing planets outside the solar system is old news, but have we found extra-solar water clouds for the first time?





Today is the last working day for Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios. Ms. Rios not only made appearances at collector conventions, but would autograph notes bearing her signature. Best of luck to you in your future endeavors, Ms. Rios, and thanks for your years of work!




Crime doesn’t pay, even for treasure hunters! This hunter thought he could get around the law for greater profit.

Friday Odds and Ends, July 1



The winner of one of our scavenger hunts, Steve Gagen, sent us a great photo with his prize! So glad you like the coins!





Ever get one of those weird feelings that you don’t have a word for? Science can help!



Can coin collecting improve your quality of life? The evidence says yes! 







Have you heard of the Centennial Bulb? It’s an electric lightbulb that was lit in 1901, and has never gone out! Even better: you can watch a livestream of the bulb and see it for yourself.



For everyone in the States, have a great Fourth of July weekend!

Friday Odds and Ends, June 24


ClquzeRWgAACtBh.jpgAccording to PCGS, the $20 Mormon gold coin was the first double eagle struck on US soil for general circulation. Look for an in-depth story on our blog soon!


Have you visited the online museum Mintage World yet? It’s got thousands of coins and other items, cataloged and easy to access for all visitors.


appear-confidentHow to appear confident, even when you’re not.





nh-apluto-mountains-plains-9-17-15_0-640x411Is Pluto’s cold surface hiding a distant ocean? NASA has the details.






CaptureWant to feel like a modern chef and have something to impress your dinner guests? Salt-cured egg yolks will be a hit (and they’re a cinch to make.)



Convicts, Star Trek, and Glowing Coins: What You Need to Know

In 1999, the United States Mint began releasing the new State Quarter designs. Serious collectors and the general public alike were delighted by the coins, trying to collect each new design as soon as it came out. Collections were displayed in various ways, from professional frames to maps to homemade mountings. The New York Times reported that nearly half of all Americans collected the coins, either as a serious pursuit or casual collections. It was easily the most popular numismatic program in the nation’s history.


If you’re like many Americans, you have a full or partial set of state quarters somewhere, gathering dust. Do you still look at them and remember how fun it was when you saw a new design for the first time? Maybe you miss the excitement of finding a new design in a handful of change.


Coin collecting can still feel like that! You don’t have to focus on “serious” coins to be a serious collector. If you want to learn all the ins and outs of mint marks, strikes, and other numismatic concerns, great! If you don’t, that’s fine, too. Coin collecting is open to everyone from every interest and budget.


“But I don’t know what else to collect!”


The short answer: you can collect anything you want. But that’s probably not very helpful. Here’s a better way to think about it: what interests you?



Roman_-_Coin_with_a_Hippopotamus_and_Portrait_of_Otacilia_Severa_-_Walters_59751_-_BackCoins have been made for thousands of years; for most of written history, in fact. So whatever historical period catches your attention, you can collect coins from it. Ancient coins will be more expensive and harder to find than modern coins, but they are available. And there’s nothing wrong with collecting modern coins! Maybe you’d like to find every coin minted in your birth year, or collect pennies from every year of the twentieth century. Whether you’re into the 1980’s or the 80’s AD, there are coins for you.



310935_D_Reverse of the 2016 one dollar Copper Uncirculated Coin Forget Me Not_2You can often get lovely commemorative or uncirculated coins with historic themes. For example, the Australian Mint has a stunning set of convict-themed coins, linking back to the country’s history as a penal colony.

8330-01__19491.1396568760.1200.1200.jpgSome of the earliest coins made depict various animals, and they have always been popular subjects for coins and currency. Powerful creatures like eagles and lions are common, but stags, antelope, beavers, and even the odd kiwi bird have made appearances. Commemorative coins are often a good place to find your favorite animals, but many can be found on circulating coinage from around the world.

Got a green thumb? Check for your favorite plants on coins. Palm trees and olives are common, but you can also find unique plants if you look closely enough. The 1938 Newfoundland 1 cent coin has a purple pitcher plant on the reverse, possibly the only carnivorous plant to appear on a coin.

palestine.jpgA plant that appears on a coin may be something native to the country, such as the olive on this Palestinian coin. It may also have a symbolic meaning, such as palms for victory.
Commemorative Coins

s-l1600.jpgMany mints produce coins to commemorate particular events, notable people, and other special subjects. These coins are often highly decorative, and may have bright colors or use multiple metals. These coins never go into circulation, so you’ll have to make a special purchase to get them.


The Canadian Mint just released a spectacular new set of Star Trek coins, with several colorful designs. (In fact, they even invited William Shatner to see the Mint and strike one of the coins! You can see that moment on their Twitter page.) They also produced a stunning Superman coin to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the character.


est1Going somewhere? Keep your pocket change after the trip! Challenge yourself to find as many different kinds of coins on the trip as you can. Display them with photos of the trip as a special memento, or create a map of your journey with the coins attached (be sure to find a type of display that won’t damage your coins: any good coin collecting supply store can help.)

If your destination is somewhere special to you, you can collect coins that remind you of the area, or reflect local history or flora and fauna.



149879_rev_glow-570.pngIs science your thing? Many coins reflect scientists, discoveries, and scientific equipment. This coin from the Canadian Mint celebrates the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, and has a glow-in-the-dark feature. Or, if paleontology is more your style, you can collect dinosaur coins. If you’re into biology, you could collect coins from the Galapagos Islands, where Darwin made some of his key discoveries.
These are just a few ideas for coin collections: you can always create your own idea, or go with some of the classics. CoinWeek has some great ideas for traditional collections.


The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair Through Vintage Postcards

In the 1930’s, people were fascinated by technological advances. So it stands to reason that the motto of Chicago’s 1933 World’s Fair was “Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms”. Throughout the fair visitors could find exhibits that replicated scientific discoveries and the inventions resulting from them.

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Chicago ran the fair on Lake Michigan.

It honored the first Chicago World’s fair in 1893 by constructing a “Rainbow City” – an ode to the World’s Columbian Exposition’s “White City”. The Rainbow City featured late Art Deco-style architecture.

The fair also featured questionable displays, like a hall of incubators with real babies inside them. They wanted to feature this new, life saving incubator technology, but did they really have to put live babies inside them?

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The fair introduced a Homes of Tomorrow Exhibition that showed what homes of the future would look like. With a growing interest in domestic ease in the U.S., the exhibition was a hit. Some homes even featured helicopter pads. Many people bought plans for the houses and later used them to construct their own.

The fair saw so much success that it had a second opening from May 26 to October 31, 1934.

The fair was remembered way past its 1934 end date. The city added a fourth red star to its flag to remember the exposition.

Art Made of Butterfly Wings: The Micromosaics of Henry Dalton

A rare and fascinating kind of art comes from a man named Henry Dalton (1829-1911). Most people, however, haven’t heard of it.
Dalton loved science while growing up. As an adult he got into microscopy, the science of using microscopes to view objects that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Dalton put this skill to a unique use: he put together micromosaics using only diatoms and the scales of butterfly wings.

Diatoms are a major type of algae.

Art like this had never been done before, and Dalton gained respect for his work from fellow naturalists.

Pictures courtesy of the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

Images courtesy of the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

Dalton traveled quite a bit in an attempt to improve his health after he got tuberculosis in his thirties. Whether or not it improved his health, it did improve his reputation as an artist.

The first step in making these micromosaics was collecting butterfly wings from around the world. Dalton meticulously took off the scales with a needle and sorted the scales by size, color and shape. Once a scale’s location in the piece had been chosen, Dalton would very carefully move it to its selected spot with a small tube and a plate of glass. He crushed a small part of the scale to the slide, letting its natural oils stick to the glass.

Dalton’s art used up to a thousand butterfly wing scales in each piece.

Today, Dalton’s art is shown at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in California. Visitors need to look through microscopes to see the pieces: that’s how tiny they are.