The Odd Side – January 9, 2018

Rare U.S. Coins Sell for Pretty Penny at Auction in Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – When is a penny worth $300,000?

When it’s one of the first copper coins struck at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, in 1793.

The annual Florida United Numismatists (FUN) convention was held in Tampa this week. It’s considered one of the five largest coin and currency collectors’ shows in the nation, experts say; and three historic coins, including the pricey penny, went up for auction Thursday evening. In all, the auction drew $24.9 million in sales.

Mark Borckardt, a senior numismatist with Heritage Auctions in Dallas, said the George Washington-era penny is one of about 500 in existence.

Other high-value U.S. coins sold at auction included a half-dollar minted in New Orleans in 1838. It was one of the first 20 produced there.

A $4 gold piece called a “Flowing Hair Stella” sold for $750,000.

“It was an experimental piece that the government produced, hoping to create an international coinage,” Borckardt said. “It’s literally the forerunner of today’s Euro. The government finally decidedthat, no, it’s not going to work.”

There are only about 15 to 20 of those quarter-sized gold coins in existence.

The coins had high value due to their rarity and excellent condition.

“Collectors interested in these have a very strong sense of history, both American history and financial history,” said Borckardt.

Postal Carriers Say Aggressive Turkeys Stopping Mail Service

ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (AP) – Postal carriers say a rafter of aggressive wild turkeys have prevented them from delivering mail to more than two dozen homes in a Cleveland suburb.

Cleveland.com reports that residents on a number of streets in Rocky River have had to pick up their mail at the post office because the turkeys have created unsafe conditions for carriers to deliver to their homes.

Rocky River Mayor Pam Bobst said the problem has persisted for the last three weeks. She said city ordinances don’t allow for the turkeys to be eradicated.

The city has instead sent letters to people asking them to stop putting out bird feed in the hope the turkeys will go elsewhere.

A U.S. Postal Service spokesman says some carriers have been pecked but none have been injured.

Merchandise Featuring Fiona the Hippo Brings in Big Bucks

CINCINNATI (AP) – Merchandise inspired by Ohio’s famous baby hippo, Fiona, has returned nearly half a million dollars to the Cincinnati Zoo.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports the zoo has collected about $480,000 in sales from businesses with merchandising agreements. Products include everything from clothing and ornaments to beer and ice cream.

The zoo says it isn’t keeping track of cash the hippo-themed products are turning over. But zoo spokeswoman Michelle Curley says more than $200,000 of the money was used for Fiona’s care. Curley says the remainder is helping with the care, feeding and enrichment of all the zoo’s hippos.

The beloved baby hippo will celebrate her first birthday Jan. 24. Local merchants expect the celebration to spur an economic boost as businesses roll out more Fiona-themed products.