Are the 1982 zinc cents the same as the 1943 ?lead? cents?
There is a persistent misconception that the current cents should be magnetic. The 1943 cents were commonly called ?lead? cents, but were actually zinc-plated steel. From mid-1982 the cents are now copper-plated zinc. The 1943 cents are magnetic because of the steel core, while the 1982 and later cents are not. Zinc has no magnetic properties.
Some old literature on the 1969-S doubled-die cents says that ?several thousand? of them were confiscated, but another source says that only a handful were taken. Which is correct?
The lower figure is correct, as the Secret Service only grabbed fewer than a dozen of the 1969-S doubled dies. They did confiscate several thousand of the 1969-P doubled dies, which were counterfeit. A Mint official gave me the incorrect information (that they were 1969-S) and it was some time before I was able to get the correct information.
Are there any counterfeit Lincoln cents?
Lots of the key coins have been counterfeited. The 1943 cents are said to be the most commonly counterfeited Lincoln cent. There are 1941 brass cents that weigh 32.95 grains, and there?s a counterfeit 1942 ?trial strike? for the 1943 cents. The 1955 and 1972 doubled-die cents have also been counterfeited.
How are the clad layers bonded to the copper core for our clad coinage?
The first method used was explosive bonding, which was discarded in 1967 as too expensive, so a pressure bonding method was developed and used. Explosion bonding involved a thin layer of explosive that was detonated to drive the three layers together. A bonding process line was installed at the newest Philadelphia Mint in 1969, doubling the cost of the building to over $30 million, only to be abandoned later in favor of purchasing bonded strip from outside suppliers.
I have a coin that has a lot of cracks into the surface, like a spider web. What could have caused this?
I was once told by a Mint employee that this was the result of using a pair of rolls that had been damaged, but we know now that striking the coin would have covered up any damage from the rolls, which would not normally be allowed to get into such bad shape anyway. One of our readers eventually came up with the right answer ? the coin had been lying in the bottom of a city sewer for some time, and the acids in the waste water had eroded the cracks into the surface of the coin.
I hear repeated stories of genuine lettered-edge half dollars dated 1837 and later. Any comment?
Sorry, but none of them are genuine, despite the fact that at least one reference book called them ?patterns.? They are mostly Mexican produced counterfeits passed into circulation while Mexican and other foreign coins were still legal tender in the U.S. The U.S. Mint switched to a reeded edge in 1836, and all 1837 and later halves have reeded edges. These fakes were shipped across the Mexican border by the ton in the mid-1800s and there are a lot of them still around. Over the years there have been several claims that these were in fact a new variety, but further investigation in each case determined that they are counterfeits.
I?m familiar with the ?Idler? specimen of the 1804 dollar, but what is the ?Dexter? specimen?
The Idler coin has probably had more publicity, but the Dexter piece runs it a close second. The coin was purchased in Berlin, Germany, in 1884 by the Chapman Brothers and sold by them the next year to James V. Dexter, a Denver banker. It is a proof, and considered to be the second or third finest of the known examples of the date.