Sunday, September 29, 2013

The "M" Box Part II

Continuing through the "M" box, another group of collectibles without anything more in the way of information than the hallmark: MSC; M2; MEE; MCR, Div. Of Greb; Mehlos Refinery; and MMM. I have seen photos of MMM ingots in smaller size, +/- 2 oz, with Colorado included in the hallmark, "MMM Colorado", but the example below has nothing more than MMM.
A trio of Mastiff Metals ingots in the three presentation variations I have seen on the obverse to date: hallmark alone, hallmark with weight, and hallmark with name. I have read that the Bull Mastiff hallmark encircled by the words "Faithful Guardian" represents the second variety produced by Mastiff Metals, reportedly the first variety contained the written name only. The third example may be a transitional piece between the two varieties. I believe these date to the early 70's.
Metalrex from Reno, NV, one a shallow pour rectangle and the other in the shape of the State of Nevada. 
And finally Mid South Silver and Mid South Smelter. I found a Mid South Silver & Recovery Co. and a Mid South Refinery & Smelters, both formerly in business in Brandon, MS. Nothing to add on the first but Mid South Refinery & Smelters was dissolved on January 15,1980 after 33 years in business. 

As always, anyone have information to add let me know.
Silver Ingots

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The "M" Box Part I

Normally when starting a new box I jump right to my favorite but I am having some trouble with the photography of my favorites from the "M" box so I will cover the rest of the box, probably in two posts, and by then hopefully have the photography issue figured out.
A lot of neat ingots in this box but again, not a lot of information. Pictured first a pair of highly collectible ingots, Montana Gold & Silver Corporation and E. D. Marshall Refiners. These both required a great deal of patience to acquire and I have not been able to double up on either.


Two more rarities, Motherlode and MDM. As with the Montana Gold & Silver and E.D. Marshall Refiners pictured above, these first four examples represent the only I have ever come across of each in class.
A nice group of L.C. Murray ingots in the four different presentations I have found to date, certified, no hallmark picture-framed; hallmark torch only picture-framed; and certified with and without hallmark torch on standard cast ingots. 

Finally for this first "M" box post, MSR on the reverse of a splitting double image of the L.C. Murray picture-framed ingot displayed above.

Anyone have any additional info feel free to comment.
Silver Ingots

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Signal

The 5.04 oz The Signal - Vigilance Forever ingot pictured below, has led to a most interesting story. After acquisition I began my research and quickly found that The Signal was a Santa Clara Valley newspaper that started publication in 1919. was the source for most of my information and I was fortunate to make acquaintance with Leon Worden, the Webmaster and a former Editor of The Signal. The story at the end of this post is printed with permission from Leon Worden from his original at 
Scott Newhall, who you will meet in the story below, mentioned visits to the San Francisco Mint and the remarkable similarities between The Signal ingot to Mint Of The United States At San Francisco ingots amaze me. Overall, the only significant difference in the two stems from the apparent force used in stamping of The Signal ingot hallmark and subsequent distortion of the ingot casting.

Make sure to read the reprint below and as always, let me know if anyone has something to add.
Silver Ingots
Reprint from

Scott Newhall didn't do anything half-way, be it editorializing or pursuing his hobbies. He was a big-time collector of coins (and artwork, cars and more). He was particularly attracted to silver world coins, especially from one of his favorite vacation spots, Mexico.

On occasion, he even made his own silver ingots as mementos of various ventures, including his Newhall Signal newspaper.

It was an art form he'd learned while working for the San Francisco Chronicle. He started there in 1934 as a summer replacement photographer and worked his way up to executive editor from 1952-71. The Chronicle building sat (and still sits) directly across Mission Street from the old San Francisco Mint — one of the few buildings to survive the 1906 earthquake and fire. Coins were struck there from 1874 to 1937.

"I went up through the Mint one time quite early on and watched them pour some silver and gold ingots — you know, five-ounce silver bars or 10-ounce gold bars," Newhall told Suzanne B. Riess, who interviewed him in 1988-89 on behalf of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, where he had studied in the early 1930s.

"I knew how to pour silver and gold bars," Newhall said. "It's a fascinating business. If one realizes that the basis of all commerce and cultural concourse is money, mostly the precious metals, one becomes fascinated with it."

To what must have been Newhall's dismay, in 1963-64, when the spot price of silver reached and ultimately surpassed the nominal value of U.S. coins, the Treasury decided to suspend the issue of 90-percent silver dimes, quarters and half dollars beginning in 1965 and replace them with a copper-nickel "sandwich" composition. (Silver dollar coins were last minted in 1935.) Half dollar coins were reduced to 40-percent silver clad until 1971 when they, too, became fiat money.

Around the same time this was happening, Scott and his wife, Ruth Waldo Newhall, bought The Newhall Signal (1963) and moved into the Warring Mansion in Piru, which they would purchase in 1968.

There's an axiom in numismatics called Gresham's law: Bad money drives out good. Scott Newhall, like millions of other Americans, made it so by withdrawing the 90-percent silver coinage from circulation.

The Signal's news racks provided Scott with a cache of semiprecious metal. He instructed circulation department staffers to sift through the coins and pull out those dated 1964 and earlier. Over a period of years, he melted them down and cast them into small, blank silver bars.

Around 1973, Scott realized he owned another supply of silver in the form of old, silver-bearing page negatives (used to burn the offset plates for the printing press). He hauled them out of storage and brought them to a local amateur silver recycler who took them to the Mojave Desert, burned them, recovered the raw silver from the ashes, and split the resulting haul 50-50.

Scott took his share, now in the form of small granules, to his shop in the basement of the Piru Mansion. There, using an acid process, he refined it into .9999-fine (essentially pure) silver. With torches and crucibles ablaze, he cast more blank silver bars and then decided to produce a limited issue of 50 commemorative bars for friends of The Signal.

He crafted a die with The Signal's logotype and eagle mascot and pressed it into silver ingots weighing approximately 5 troy ounces. Because each was hand-made, no two are alike; the one depicted here is 5.04 ounces, while another is known to weigh 5.56 ounces.

A staffer in the newspaper's circulation department stitched together small, gold-and-red flannel bags for each ingot, which was accompanied by a letter that told a glamorized history of the bar and its approximate value.

From 1973-78 the rare souvenirs were presented in person to special friends and major advertisers of The Signal, and the Newhall family kept a record of each ingot owner.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

The "L" List

The "L" list follows:

Lavin, R., & Sons
Lawrence & Son Inc.
Leach & Garner
Letcher Mint
Liberty Mint
Lone Star Metals
Lone Star Silver
Lone Star Silver Mine
Louis & Mac Kay
Louisville Metals Company

As always, anyone have a name to add let me know.

Silver Ingots

Monday, September 2, 2013

The "L" Box

The "L" box is another very light box; two very important "L" examples continue to elude me, Lawrence & Son, Inc., Mojave, CA; and Louis & Mac Kay. Anyone have a lead on either of these in class, please let me know.
Let's start with an interesting cast, gunmetal gray, example; Lyman.

I have seen one or two 10 oz class Lyman examples for sale but the ingot pictured above is the only 5 oz class ingot I have ever seen. It weighs 5.479 ozs. and is stamped 999 on the reverse.
Nothing was written in the other listings to provide any information; I actually had mine cataloged under S & S Lyman, a name I had seen in past readings. In doing research for this post, I found my way to Lyman Products, advertised as a primary source of reloading supplies, and under bullet casting materials found a mixed bar of lead and copper with the exact same logo. A bit more reading and I came across the mold pictured below which appears to be a perfect lettering match to the ingot above.

Lyman Products has been around since the late 1800's and prides themselves as being an innovative developer of products for shooters and reloaders over the years. Nothing on their website indicates they ever deviated into precious metals so there are a few possibilities here. It may be some kind of presentation ingot or since the molds are readily available, it could have been poured by anyone and have nothing to do with the company.

The gunmetal gray coloring has always been suspect in spite of the 999 stamp, and an X-ray assay test at Crossroads Coins is in order. Pending the outcome of that, I will communicate with Lyman Products and keep everyone posted. 
Continuing through the "L" box, LCR pictured next.
And finally two more modern looking examples, Lone Star Mint and Lone Star Silver. No other information on the last three.
Silver Ingots