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, the authorities once again decided health concerns were paramount, and 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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The Young Victoria Collection – Best in Category for 2017

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) recently announced its Collector’s Society 2017 NGC Registry Award Winners, and my collection of Young Head Victoria Sovereigns, “The Young Victoria Collection,”1 was awarded Best in Category in the 2017 World Coin Competitive Sets competition for the Sovereign (Victoria) 1838-1901, Circulation Issue2 category. The collection won the Best in Category award twice previously in 2012 and 2016.

The only improvement made to the collection since last year’s competition was the addition of a Choice Uncirculated 1854 sovereign, replacing an Almost Uncirculated example.

This increased the number of mint state (MS-61 or better) examples from nineteen to twenty, and twelve of those twenty are in Choice to Gem condition (MS 64 to MS 66).

Despite this improvement, the overall point score NGC awarded the collection actually decreased by 13,293 from last year! This initially had me scratching my head until I noticed that NGC has now designated four key dates/variants as “Non-competitive; for display only,” and examples of these key dates/variants no longer contribute points to a collection’s overall score. NGC gave no explanation for this change.3

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

Notes

  1. The Young Victoria Collection at NGC Collectors Society: https://tinyurl.com/y6vwax8g
  2. Category Sovereign (Victoria) 1838-1901, Circulation Issue: https://tinyurl.com/y7nezme5
  3. The key dates/variants affected were: 1841 (124,050 minted), 1843 Narrow Shield (mintage unknown), 1859 Ansell (167,539 minted), and 1874 (520,713 minted). Examples of each of these key dates/variants known to exist today number only in the dozens. I can’t speculate why NGC excluded these four key dates/variants, but I note that my collection includes three of the four, while competing collections have none.
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Looking back on 2017

The past year has been a great one for hiking, so I haven’t done much blogging. Our hiking group gained another 1,474 members this year, and we finally went over 10,000 members! It’s hard for me to believe we were only 1,995 strong in 2012. I started organizing events for the group that October, bumped the number of hikes to 1-2 hikes per week, and it’s been nonstop growth ever since. I just hope they never all show up at once…

We did 103 hiking events in 2017; exactly the same number we did in 2016. Unsurprisingly, the total distance was also about the same: around 450 miles, at locations throughout Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. There were a lot of visits to familiar places, but we went to a lot of new places, too.

Some highlights:

  • A memorable hike in January was from the site of the Civil War Fort Ethan Allen in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River on Chain Bridge to the Little Falls of the Potomac; and then back via the Gulf Branch of the Potomac. By the time we finished, the snowflakes falling were the size of quarters!
  • A couple of new events in February were a visit to Fredericksburg and Government Island, where we retraced the advance of the right flank of the Union Army from the Rappahannock to Marye’s Heights and visited the quarry that provided stone for the White House and the Capitol Building; and an urban hike in Alexandria to check out the Revolutionary War Day reenactment at Fort Ward.

The photo of the stone wall at Marye’s Heights (left) is almost the identical viewpoint as Matthew Brady’s photo taken in 1863, after the Second Battle of Fredericksburg.

  • In May we visited Kennedy Peak and Little Devil Stairs. The first is beautiful; you are treated to spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley even at the trailhead. The second is well named: it started with a mile of difficult rocky climbing, crossing and recrossing a mountain stream. Fortunately, as the saying goes, it was all downhill from there.
  • Something new in July was a hike at Catoctin Mountain Park in northern Maryland — quite a drive for many in our group. Although the trail is very rocky in places, it’s not a difficult hike, and the view from the top is wonderful.
  • In October we made a trip to Harpers Ferry and Maryland Heights. It was hard to choose between one or the other, so we tried to do a little of both. Pro trip: they may not carry viruses, but gnats can eat you alive. Don’t spare the insect repellent.
  • A few last photos from hikes in November and December

On to 2018!

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The Young Victoria Collection – Best in Category for 2016

The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) recently announced its Collector’s Society 2016 NGC Registry Award Winners, and my collection of Young Head Victoria Sovereigns, “The Young Victoria Collection,”1 was awarded Best in Category in the 2016 World Coin Competitive Sets competition for the Sovereign (Victoria) 1838-1901, Circulation Issue2 category. The collection won the Best in Category award previously in 2012.

Since 2012, the collection was improved considerably by acquiring better examples of many years. In 2012, only two examples were mint state (MS 61 or better); now, nineteen are Mint State, and eleven of those are Choice (MS 64 or better).

But as far as competing in NGC’s competition, the collection is still hampered by the same limitations that existed in 2012:

  • When I began the collection, I intentionally limited its scope to gold sovereigns minted in London from 1838 to 1874, featuring the first portrait of Victoria on the obverse and a shield design on the reverse. (These are known as “Young” head sovereigns; hence the collection’s name.) However, NGC’s competitive category is much larger, and includes all Victoria sovereigns from 1838 to 1901, regardless of the design or mint locations. The impact of this difference in scope is that a collection including sovereigns outside the scope of my collection could quite easily garner more points, and win NGC’s competition. (And in fact that is what has happened during 2013-2015.)
  • The Competitive Sets are limited to NGC graded coins only. I appreciate NGC’s sponsorship of the competition and understand the limitation – they’re in the business of promoting their service. But I am focused on the coins, as any numismatist should be, and the presence and/or identity of a grading service is incidental. (To use an analogy, I’m interested only in the cereal, not the brand name on the box.) The impact of this limitation is that ten of the finest coins in the collection could not be included in the competition.

For example, this wonderful Choice Uncirculated 1838 sovereign was added to the collection in 2015, but since it was graded by the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), it could not be included in NGC’s competition:

1838Despite the limitations, the improvements made since 2012, plus whatever changes that have taken place in competitors’ collections, were sufficient to garner the 2016 top slot.

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

Notes

  1. The Young Victoria Collection at NGC Collectors Society: http://tinyurl.com/hwgkhhx
  2. Category Sovereign (Victoria) 1838-1901, Circulation Issue: http://tinyurl.com/zke5mzm

Images adapted from NGC and Heritage Auctions

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