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1853 quarter without overdate not a rarity

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 I have an 1853 quarter and a half dollar, both with rays. I was told by one person that they are quite rare, so what are they worth?

Neither of your two 1853 coins are very rare, unless the 1853 quarter is the overdate variety with the 3 over a 4. You didn?t indicate the grade, but the half starts at $28 in good and the quarter starts at $20 in good grade. I?d suggest taking them to a local coin dealer to be appraised. Don?t clean or polish them.


There?s a 1794 cent that has what is called ?The Drunken Die-cutter?s Obverse.? What can you tell me about it?

They had colorful names for die varieties ? and still do! In this case, the die cutter started out on the date, got the first two digits cut, then apparently had a three-martini lunch and cut the 9 very high, close to the base of the bust and then dropped the 4 sharply down to make it fit.


I know there?s a ?tombstone? note, but was one of our coins referred to as the ?tombstone? coin?

While it was not a generally used nickname, some artistic circles charged the 2-cent coin with being ?monumental art, engraved in the typical manner of a tombstone.? I guess that would qualify it.


Where did the expression ?plug nickel? come from?

The original phrase was ?not worth a plugged nickel.? I believe the original source was the practice in the West of using nickels for targets. A nickel that was hit by a bullet was considered ?plugged,? and worthless. Earlier the term plugged traces back to an issue of tin coins with copper plugs in early England. The plug was supposed to be a deterrent to counterfeiting.

 Please explain what is meant by a ?cartwheel? or ?cartwheel effect? on a coin.

Remember the old movies? When the stage coach went by, the spokes were a blur, turning in the wrong direction. When a coin is struck, the metal in the field areas is forced toward the rim or toward the central design, leaving tiny flow lines on the surface. These lines on an uncirculated coin will reflect light in a pattern similar to the blurred spokes, and in a very distinctive manner that disappears when the coin has been circulated or cleaned.



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