In his column The Curious Collector for the March 2023 E-Gobrecht from the Liberty Seated Collectors Club, Len Augsburger looked into the discovery of the unique 1870-S Half Dime.
The 1870-S half dime is well-known as one of the few unique coins in the U.S. series and is a relatively modern entry into this exclusive club, being discovered only in the late 20th century. Heritage Auctions recently sold the piece as part of the Tom Bender collection, at the 2023 FUN sale, where it was graded PCGS MS64 CAC and realized $3.12 million.
The discovery story of the coin was not well publicized until Bill Burd, a longtime Chicago
dealer, wrote in the June 1998 Numismatist:
"An 1870-S half dime went undiscovered until 1978, when it was purchased by Phyllis Storm of Orland Coin and Stamp Shop in Orland Park, Illinois. According to Storm, a man walked into the shop with a small box of coins. She paid him a fair price for the lot, believing the half dime was a common type coin. When she and her husband, Rich, could not find a listing for an 1870-S half dime, they consulted Ed Milas of RARCOA. The coin was determined to be genuine, and Milas purchased it from the Storms."
So, where exactly was the Orland Park Coin and Stamp store located? This is a more complicated question that one might expect, as the business is long gone. A clip from the Blue Island Sun, September 11, 1977, reported:
Richard Storm has recently opened a new coin and stamp shop in Orland Square. The shop is located on the lower level just off center court on the Carson side of the mall. Richard Storm is an A.N.A. life member and a dealer in numismatics and a philatelist. The shop, Orland Coin and Stamps deals primarily in U.S. coins and stamps.
This article placed the store in the Orland Square mall. Tom DeLorey, who worked at Harlan Berk Rare Coins in Chicago and lived in the in Orland Park area (Blue Island), wondered if the store was actually located in an adjacent mall (email to author, November 10, 2022):
The city of Orland Park, IL had two competing malls on either side of 151st Street. Orland Square Mall on the north side of 151st was the larger and more prestigious. It looks as though the coin shop started out there, and that may have been where the 1870-S Half Dime surfaced. Orland Park Place (mall) was south of 151st. I married a lady from Blue Island in late 1986 and moved there. We used to go out to Orland Square to walk the mall and have lunch and/or shop. We only went to Orland Park Place to visit the coin shop a couple of times, as most of the shops were already empty and it was very depressing. Then their last anchor store closed and the mall closed.
I checked with the Orland Park, IL library regarding phone books from that period, and they had none. A second try, at the Newberry Library in Chicago, was more successful. A reference librarian at Newberry reported that phone books for 1979, 1982, and 1983 placed Orland Park Coin and Stamp at 412 Orland Square Shopping Center, on the north side of 151st Street. This was helpful, but didn't completely explain Tom's recollection, so I asked them to check successive years.
Newberry then reported that the store did in fact move and was listed in the 1987-1988 directory at 1120 Orland Park Place Mall, now on the south side of 151st.
As the 1870-S half dime first publicly appeared on exhibit at the 1978 ANA convention, prior to the move of Orland Park Coin and Stamp, we can thus pinpoint the
discovery site of the coin to unit 412 of the Orland Square Mall, which is still standing.
Following the sale of the 1870-S half dime, the Storms apparently sold the Orland Park store and moved to Florida, as reported by the Numismatic News, April 2, 1983:
Richard and Phyllis Storm have announced the opening of their new coin and stamp shop, Bonita Coins and Stamps, in the Springs Plaza, Bonita Springs, Fla. The shop will feature gold and silver coins and stamps of all types, coin jewelry and collector supplies. Before moving to Florida, the Storms operated Orland Coins and Stamps in Orland Park, Ill.
Tom DeLorey did one final piece of investigation and reported
Just for the hell of it, I called the [Orland Square] mall and asked what is in unit 412 now. It is Mrs. Field's Cookies. I know it well. My first wife and I stopped there many a time. Of course, none of this explains who walked into the mall and sold the coin to the Storms in 1978, but at least we now know exactly where it happened.
To read the complete lot description, see:
1870-S H10C MS64 PCGS. CAC....
For more information on the Liberty Seated Collectors Club, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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