Bluebirds

A young bluebird at our bird feeder billing with its parent and getting a bite to eat.

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The Young Victoria Collection – Best in Category for 2021

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) recently announced its 2021 NGC Registry Award Winners and, once again, “The Young Victoria Collection” was awarded Best in its Category.  The collection previously won the Best in Category award in 2012, 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2020. It has gotten edged out now and again since it was submitted for competition because it is intentionally limited to sovereigns with a shield reverse from 1838 to 1874, while the category in which it competes extends from 1838 until 1901, and includes sovereigns with a reverse depicting Saint George slaying a dragon.

Below is one of the highlights of the collection, an 1859 “Ansell” sovereign, so named in honor of George Frederick Ansell (1826-1880). Ansell experimented with a batch of gold that had been initially rejected by the Royal Mint for being too brittle and contaminated by traces of antimony, arsenic, and lead. Ansell’s efforts resulted in a strong alloy that enabled the Mint to strike 167,539 sovereigns from the batch, which were distinguished by an extra line on the ribbon holding Victoria’s hair. Today only 15-25 Ansell sovereigns are known to exist; this example is the finest.

The Young Victoria Collection in its entirety can be seen here.

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Looking back on 2021

Seems like 2021 was a pretty good year for hiking, if our hiking group is any indication. During 2021 we went on 102 hikes for a total of 500.5 miles; averaging 4.9 miles per hike. That’s the most mileage we’ve ever done in a year, since I started keeping track 5 years ago in 2016.

Our first quarter events included seeing the Tall Ship Providence replica at anchor in Old Town Alexandria and a Bald Eagle at Occoquan Bay Wildlife Refuge. In March we visited Washington DC to see the troops and fortifications surrounding the Capitol Building.

Among our events during April through June were a visit to Great Falls, hiking at Dark Hollow Falls and Hawksbill Mountain in the Shenandoah Mountains, and touring historic Frederick in Maryland.

In late Summer and early Fall our outings included a visit to Rippon Lodge, near Neabsco Creek, touring historic Manassas, and a couple of visits to Fredericksburg to check out the historic district and the Rappahannock Canal.

We didn’t see much cold weather during the last quarter, so we were able to do a lot of hiking! Some of the venues were Kennedy Peak, in the Massanutten Mountain Range, the Manassas National Battlefield Park, and Arlington Cemetery, which we visited on the Sunday after Christmas.

I certainly didn’t host all 102 hikes by myself! My partner in crime (so to speak), Jim Bovard, hosted 45 hikes. Most were along the ever-popular C&O Canal, starting from Carderock, Glen Echo, and the Palisades, for a total of 245.6 miles.

A good thing, too, because I was goofing off at the beach during July and taking care of something very important!

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The Young Victoria Collection – Best in Category for 2020

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) just announced its Collector’s Society 2020 NGC Registry Award Winners. My collection of Young Head Victoria Sovereigns, “The Young Victoria Collection,” was awarded Best in Category again!  The collection previously won the Best in Category award in 2012, 2016, 2017, and 2019.

Building a collection takes time, and very nice coins do not come on the market at your command.  I was only able to make one improvement since last year, a lovely MS64 sovereign minted in 1871.

The Young Victoria Collection in its entirety can be seen here.

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Looking back on 2020

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

– Charles Dickens, “Tale of Two Cities”

The year 2020 had much in common with the period Dickens wrote of. In 2020 the “noisiest authorities” again insisted that our time was superlative; unique from and more important than all others, and thus worthy of the most extreme measures. They didn’t set up guillotines, at least, but from March through June, in the supposed best interest of the public health, the authorities shut down all parks and health and fitness facilities, public and private.

Nevertheless, during 2020 our group still managed to go on 74 hikes for a total of 354 miles; averaging 4.8 miles per hike.

During the first quarter we saw mockingbirds at Fort Ward, checked out the Titanic Memorial in DC,  and visited the National Mall to enjoy the annual cherry blossoms.

During the second quarter, as noted, the authorities pretty much shut down all healthy outdoor activities for health reasons. Nevertheless, during the last few weeks of the quarter we were able to get in a little quality time at Brookside Gardens and along the Old Town Alexandria waterfront.

In Fall things started to reopen a bit, and we spent a lot of time hiking at Carderock, some more time in Old Town, and checked out the Neabsco Boardwalk and Schaeffer Farm.

As the year drew to a close and the presidential elections were in the offing, the authorities once again clamped down on outdoor activities.

In Maryland and the District of Columbia, science dictated that it was safe to hike outdoors with a group of up to 25 people, but indoor dining at all restaurants by even a single person was too risky. Meanwhile, in Virginia, the same science dictated that it was too risky to hike outdoors with more than 10 people, but any number of people eating indoors at a restaurant was just fine.

Don’t ask me to explain the jokes; I just tell ’em.

Anyway, we revisited Conway Forest and Brawner Farm, checked out the Christmas trees on the National Mall, and saw a Christmas kitty in Old Town at night!

Despite the trying times, 2020 was the most wonderful year! I love you Pamela!

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Quincy

So often, during his twelve years of life, Quincy would hop onto my luggage when I was packing for a business trip and try to stop me from going.

It has been two years since he has gone, and though I did everything I could, I could not stop Quincy from going.

I love you Quincy, wherever you are.

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The Young Victoria Collection – Best in Category for 2019

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) recently announced its Collector’s Society 2019 NGC Registry Award Winners, and my collection of Young Head Victoria Sovereigns, “The Young Victoria Collection,” was awarded Best in Category in the 2019 World Coin Competitive Sets competition for the Sovereign (Victoria) 1838-1901, Circulation Issue category. The collection previously won the Best in Category award in 2012, 2016, and 2017.

Two improvements were made to the collection since the 2017 competition:

  • The addition of a Choice Uncirculated 1864 sovereign, replacing an Almost Uncirculated example

  • The addition of an Uncirculated 1868 sovereign, replacing an Almost Uncirculated example

This increased the number of mint state (MS-61 or better) examples to twenty-three; fifteen are in Choice to Gem condition (MS 64 to MS 66).

The Young Victoria Collection in its entirety can be seen here.

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Looking back on 2019

2019 is here and gone! A wonderful year: our hiking group has grown to over 12,000 members! Our group went on 100 hikes in 2019 for a total of 455 miles; averaging 4.55 miles per hike.

During the first quarter we checked out the Little Falls of the Potomac, hiked from Ethan Allen Park in Virginia, saw Bald Eagles at Jones Point, and visited the National Mall many times to enjoy the Cherry Blossom Festival.

During the second quarter we hunted for bluebells, crossed streams at Lake Frank, and hiked along the cliff edges of the Potomac at Great Falls!

In Fall we saw a positive bloom of butterflies at Brookfield Gardens, saw a hungry green heron at Carderock, and visited the ships at anchor in Old Town Alexandria.

As the year drew to a close, we went on a mountain hike at Stony Man, had a hawk pose for our photos along the C&O Canal, and saw a flock of turkeys at Occoquan National Wildlife Refuge!

2019 was a wonderful year — I hope 2020 brings us as many joys!

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Looking back on 2018

Good grief, another year gone by?! Our hiking group has grown to over 11,000 members this year, and it’s hard to keep track!

Our group went on 103 hikes in 2018 for a total of 439 miles; about 4.25 miles per hike.


We visited lots of new places, including Compton Peak, South Mountain, and Historic Frederick.

Looks like another great year ahead!

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Almost there

Three weeks ago we had a snowstorm just after the first day of Spring. The dip in temperatures delayed the peak bloom of the cherry blossoms on the Tidal Basin by a few weeks, and it’s just now coming to an end. (Not so the Kansai trees in Kenwood, MD — we’re visiting them this weekend.)

Nevertheless, I visited Lake Accotink that weekend to see if any Virginia bluebells were making their appearance. There aren’t a lot of bluebells at Lake Accotink, but it’s a short drive, so I use it as an indicator to decide when it’s time to go further afield to the larger patches. Of course, there was no joy to be had — the cold snap slowed down the bluebells, too.

Yesterday I visited Lake Accotink again to see how things are coming along. There a few here and there, but it’s clear they’re not quite there yet.

I’ll visit one last time this weekend, but it looks like they’ll be ready around 21-22 April; about 1-2 weeks later in the season than last year.

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