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‘Brass’ cents product of minting malfunction

Why all the uproar about the 1983 and 1985 brass cents?

There were brass-plated cents struck in 1983 and 1985 but not brass cents. There is a very important distinction between a brass and a brass-plated cent. A brass cent would have been struck on a solid brass planchet – 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc. Beginning in 1982, the cent planchets were changed to a copper-plated zinc. In both 1983 and 1985 batches of the coins got overheated in processing and the zinc core bled into the copper plating, turning it into a brass plating. One source on the Internet states that some 1983 cents were struck on “copper” planchets but offers no proof.

Is it true that most of the coins in King Farouk’s massive collection were harshly cleaned?

Some of the bullion coins were cleaned, but almost all of the copper pattern coins in his collection had been scrubbed. Prices were discounted accordingly.
The famed 1933 $20, which was recently sold, apparently was an exception as it was not cleaned.


Did the Myddelton coins for the British Colony of Kentucky, dated 1796, ever circulate?

More properly tokens, rather than coins, the pieces are only known in proof and apparently did not circulate.


On a recent trip I noticed that coin dealers and antique shops in Africa and Italy have lots of 1942-dated U.S. coins. Any special reason?

The coins came there in the pockets of the Allied invasion troops in both areas.

What are “prestruck” coins?

It’s a term that would be applied to coins struck prior to the year date that appears on the coin. They are far more common than most collectors realize. Because of the U.S. Mint’s fiscal year, it usually begins striking coins for the new year in the last quarter of the preceding year.


Didn’t historians attack the bimetal monetary system of the 1800s?

The system was based on the presumed fixed ratio between the value of silver and gold. Historians found it unworkable because of the constant fluctuation of the ratio, which skewed every time there was a new discovery of one metal or the other.


Address questions to Coin Clinic, Numismatic News, 700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990. Because of space limitations, we are unable to publish all questions. Include a loose 44-cent stamp for reply. Write first for specific mailing instructions before submitting numismatic material. We cannot accept unsolicited items. E-mail inquiries should be sent to Answerman2@aol.com.

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